MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On Tuesday, family members whose loved ones were murdered in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre spoke to state lawmakers.
They’re asking for help in the upcoming legislative session.
“My daughter is Gina Montalto, on that day, Gina, a straight-A student was working on a school project outside her classroom in the 1200 building, there was she gunned down and killed,” said Tony Montalto, Gina’s dad.
They’re speaking to them at a meeting between the Broward County SChool board and the Broward legislative delegation.
State lawmakers are getting a list of issues to work on in the upcoming session. MSD parents want them to zero in on accountability and compensation after the massacre.
“While our goal has never been to ruin a particular person or group of people we feel that accountability for any shortcomings that contributed to the loss of our daughter and the 16 other wonderful souls should come from the agencies or entities that failed,” Montalto said.
They’re also urging lawmakers to help them come up with a fair compensation program.
As it stands now, state law limits the school district’s financial exposure to $300,000. Anything over that would have to be paid by the legislature through a long process called “a claims bill.”
Debbie Hixon tells state lawmakers how her husband, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Coach Chris Hixon, was murdered on Valentine’s Day during the school massacre. She calls the murders of 17 people that day preventable.
“On February 14th, he ran into a building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, saw the shooter and didn’t turn around and run away like other people did. He ran towards him in an effort to stop him,” Hixon said.
“It keeps being said that everyone did everything right that day and I can tell you that’s absolutely not true or Chris and 16 other innocent people wouldn’t have been executed that day.”
Hixon and other families who lost loved ones spoke with state legislators who were meeting with Broward school board members. Lawmakers are discussing priorities for the upcoming legislative session.
“This is why I’m hopeful that with your help we can find a legislative solution to create a process that will bring accountability as well recompense the families for our devastating losses by creating a victim’s compensation fund that will allow us to seek a recovery in a more expedited manner.”
They’re also urging lawmakers to help them come up with a fair compensation program. As it stands now state law limits the school district’s financial exposure to 300-thousand dollars. Anything over that would have to be paid by the legislature through a long process called “a claims bill.”
“As of right now it’s a very arduous process, it would force all of these family members to relive this tragedy one at a time, in a courtroom,” said State Sen. Gary Farmer, D-District 34.
Farmer, from Hollywood, and other lawmakers at the table say they’re working to get a streamlined compensation process approved, believing party lines will not matter.
“I don’t see any legislator having the lack of conscience or lack of empathy sufficient to get them to vote no these claims bills,” Farmer said.