By: Sharon Aron Baron
After announcing their candidacy for school board last week, parents of two Marjory Stoneman Douglas victims, Lori Alhadeff and Ryan Petty, held a joint kick-off party to raise funds to finance their campaigns.
Alhadeff is running for school board District 4 which covers the cities of Parkland, Coral Springs, parts of Tamarac, North Lauderdale and Margate. On Monday evening, sitting school board member Abby Freedman announced that she would not seek reelection. So far, Alhadeff is the only one that has filed, however, candidates have until June 22 to qualify.
Ryan is running for school board District 8 which is a countywide seat. Donna Korn now occupies the seat and has filed to run along with newcomer Elijah Manley.
During the event held at the Heron Bay Plaza Del Lago Clubhouse, State Rep. Jared Moskowitz announced that he was endorsing both Alhadeff and Petty. He said the school board needs new direction and with the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, it was clear to him there needs to be a renewed focus on security in our schools.
“Since February 14, I have not seen anything tangible we’ve done to make our schools safer and through the most unfortunate of circumstances, I don’t think there’s anybody who feels it in their bones as to why this is so important than both Ryan and Lori.”
Originally from New Jersey, Alhadeff earned a bachelor of science in health and physical education along with a master of arts in education before becoming a public school teacher. She worked with children, including special-needs students, from kindergarten through ninth grade. Married to husband Ilan, she has been a stay-at-home-mom as well as a soccer mom for the last 14 years.
“On February 14, my daughter Alyssa was brutally shot and murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The next day I became a safety activist.”
Alhadeff said that Alyssa was in the first classroom when the school shooter broke the glass.
“If that glass was bulletproof, she’d still be alive today. She was in the direct line of fire when she was first shot. He left her room and he went across the hallway and then he came back and shot at her again.”
She said that Alyssa was an athlete – a soccer player, and if she saw that safe zone area in the classroom that was marked in red tape, she would have been empowered to know where to go. But because she didn’t know where to go, she just moved back, and was shot again, for a total of ten times.
Alhadeff said that if they were both elected, they would make sure schools are safe. Not just for Parkland, but for all the schools because all kids deserve the right to be safe and all kids deserve a quality education. Her goals are for all schools to have a single point of entry, metal detectors at the doors, safe zones and bulletproof shields. “School safety is layers and layers and layers of protection. It’s not just one thing.”
Petty and his wife Kelly lost their youngest child Alaina, 14, a member of the JROTC on February 14. Petty is a telecom, media, and technology entrepreneur with more than 20 years’ experience. His work has included serving as the vice president of product development and innovation at ADT.
“I’ve quite a battle ahead of me,” said Petty. “I’m facing an incumbent and I’ve got to appeal not only to you here in Parkland, but to communities where more police in the schools doesn’t make them feel safe. So we have to find solutions that are going to work for everyone.”
Petty said he is running to do three things: he wants to make sure schools are safe because kids can’t learn if they don’t feel safe and teachers can’t do what they love if they don’t feel safe. Second, he wants to make sure the money that is being put into education in Broward County is actually going to help the students. He said that too much of it is getting tied up in administrative issues and not enough of it is going to the classrooms and the teachers. Third, he said he will demand transparency and accountability from the school district because they are not being transparent and they’re not delivering an accountable product to us as consumers.
Moskowitz said both Alhadeff and Petty are interested in making schools safe because the school wasn’t safe for their own child.
“Some people want to get involved with politics because they want to be politicians and because they want to feel important. These two are the furthest from that. These two are going to make a difference and then they’re going to serve and then they’re going to make us proud.”