HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. — Teachers and staff members of Hernando County Public Schools are getting a briefing on school safety this week.
It’s part of the district’s annual School Safety Summit at Crosspoint Church. This year, two nationally recognized experts in school safety are hosting keynoting sessions. One of those sessions was on Monday, featuring Max Schachter, who lost a child in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Schachter said he's currently working on a project to keep Florida students safe.
“I see really joint collaboration between school district and law enforcement that is so critical to this area," he said.
For Schachter, advocating school safety is his top priority — and an objective that has taken him from government halls to auditoriums.
“My goal, my mission in life, after the Parkland school shooting is to make sure that this never happens again,” he said.
He talks about the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School because his son, Alex, was one of those students killed.
“Alex was 14 years old and when I sent him to school, I thought that he would come home to me like he has every other day," said Schachter. "A murderer walked into Alex’s school, killed Alex and 16 others in just 3 minutes and 51 seconds.”
His mission has taken him not only to various schools across the country, but to the nation’s capitol, and he has held talks with state senators and school staff in an effort to make change.
“As I travel this country, there’s a lot of complacency," he said. "A lot of people don’t think it’s going to happen here, and if it hasn’t happened in your community, whether I’m in a different state or on Capitol Hill, it’s my job to explain to them and tell them Alex’s story.”
Schachter said that change comes not only in the form of legislation but technology — he has helped oversee the launch of a school safety dashboard that allows parents and guardians to look at statistics inside their child’s school from bullying to threats made.
“Parents had never had access to information like this before, and schools can use it because they know it’s happening in their school," he said. "But they don’t know what’s happening in the rest of the district or the rest of the state."
But Schachter says the work is never finished, an he wants to make sure people know that no matter where he is, be it on Capitol Hill or in front of school staff in the Tampa Bay Area.
“If you don’t talk about it and teachers do not see the importance from administrators and they get complacent," he said. "That’s where leadership comes into place and it certainly looks like they have it here."
Schachter says more improvements to the dashboard he helped create are on the way. Once in place, he said they will provide more data and resources so that parents and guardians can feel safe sending their child to school when it resumes this fall.