BROWARD (CBSMiami) – Two people connected to one of the darkest days in Broward School District history are now sitting on the Broward School Board.
At a swearing in ceremony Tuesday, they promised safety will be a top priority.
“We’re broken and but you have to learn how to move forward,” said Debbie Hixon.
With her two sons at her side, Hixon was sworn in as a Broward School Board member.
She’s the second board member connected to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre nearly three years ago that took 17 lives. Her husband Chris, the school’s athletic director, died trying to disarm the gunman.
But Hixon said the tragedy does not define her. She’s been a teacher for 32 years and has a purpose.
“I want to see is a written emergency operation plan in the time of COVID. We would add that so it isn’t just about active shooters, but cyberbullying, you know, mold issues in our classroom,” she said.
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Hixon’s counterpart on the board Lori Alhadeff, who lost her daughter Alyssa in the mass shooting, sees an ally in Hixon.
“Ultimately, we’re going to need additional funding from Tallahassee to make mental health a top priority and to continue to harden our schools,” she said.
The other new face on the Broward School Board is teacher Sarah Leonardi.
“I decided to run and I wanted this job because of the experiences I had as a teacher, you know, walking into portables that were infested with mold, watching my students wait months for mental health services and watching teachers feel pretty demoralized about their work,” she said. “So those are some perspectives that I want to bring.”
Leonardi will share that perspective with that newly-elected chairman of the board, Dr. Rosalind Osgood.
This is a new board that must tackle the pressing issue of rising COVID numbers.
“Definitely having students in school learning is important. You can recover learning, you can’t recover someone’s life,” Leonardi said. “I think we need to start thinking about closing some schools.”
With COVID being a main topic in the weeks and months ahead, along with school safety, the school board is going to have a very full menu moving forward.