Bills would compensate Parkland families, survivors

Parkland students and their families rallied at the Capitol a year ago.
Photo by Marie Rattigan

One year ago the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were forever transformed after the massacre that claimed 17 students and staff. Florida officials could make the remarkable stride of creating a $160 million fund to pay the families of the 34 individuals injured or killed in the deadliest school shooting in the state's history.

State Sen. Lauren Book proposed three bills (SB 1682, SB 1680 and SB 1678) that would create and fund the programs.

One of the bills, called the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Victim Compensation Fund Program, would distribute funds to the family members of the 17 students and faculty members who were killed. Another bill, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Victim Compensation Fund, would allocate money to 17 others who was shot and wounded.

The third bill would create a trust fund within the Department of Education, which would manage the money. The proposal calls for $80 million to the compensation program for victims who were wounded and $80 million to the family members of victims who died.

The funds can be accessible to the families of those who were injured and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, on Feb. 14, 2018, if they agree to not sue the agencies or the state.

Susana Matta Valdivieso, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, hid in a dark classroom when a gunman opened fire and killed 17 people. She shared her opinion on the Senate bills and mentioned the compensation of certain victims.

“Parkland families will get compensation only because of media coverage compared to similar events that occur in lower-income communities were many marginalized black and brown people live and do not receive acknowledgement nor monetary compensation and they need it.”

She added that all the money in the world would not make a difference because innocent children are dead. Money does not prevent it from happening again, nor does protect future children, she said. Monetary compensation is great and well deserved since the government failed to protect our students the way they should have.

Within an hour of the Broward Education Foundation’s creation of the GoFundMe account for victims of the shooting more than $120,000 was raised and up until the closing date of June 30, the closing amount was over near $10 million with donors from all 50 states and over 50 countries.

Carolina Garcia, a graduate of the class of 2016 at Stoneman Douglas, spoke about the importance of gun safety.

“There needs to be stricter gun laws and background checks need to be extensive so the wrong person does not get their hand on a weapon.”