Lori Alhadeff and Debbi Hixon find purpose after Parkland shooting tragedy – CBS Miami

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — It’s a path they never imagined they would take.

But four years after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Debbi Hixon and Lori Alhadeff have become agents of change turning their grief into action as members of the Broward School Board.

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Alhadeff won a seat on the board at the end of 2018, just months after the calamity claimed the life of his 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa.

Lori and Alyssa Alhadeff (Courtesy of Lori Alhadeff)

“Alyssa was shot eight times in her English class. There is pain in my heart every day, but I try to turn it into action to make sure schools are safer for his two brothers and everyone in the district,” she said.

Alhadeff said it was not enough to have safeguards in place. She said you need to make sure they are implemented and working in every school. A major achievement was the passage of “Alyssa’s Law” which requires schools to install panic alarms to instantly notify authorities in the event of an emergency.

Alyssa Alhadeff (Courtesy of Lori Alhadeff)

“For me, I was an athlete so I approach it that way. Be prepared, do my homework, arrive early. So little things can make a bigger change,” she said.

She also focuses on mental health initiatives to prevent violence.

It is also a priority for Debbi Hixon. Her husband Chris Hixon was the athletic director of MSD. He died trying to disarm the shooter.

Chris Hixon, athletic director of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Facebook)

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Hixon said he was asked to run for county school board seat in 2020.

“It’s not in my nature to be in front. I am the worker bee and I was surprised that anyone thought I had school board quality,” she said.

Hixon proved her wrong. Entering her second full year on the board, she has demonstrated that she is a voice for teachers, having spent 31 years in the classroom.

Debbie Hixon, whose husband Chris was killed in the Parkland school shooting, is a candidate for the Broward County school board. (CBS4)

A lifelong Hollywood resident, she attended and taught at South Broward High School where her last position was as magnet coordinator.

“Most of the decisions made at the school board level have a direct impact on teachers, so if we don’t look at them and how that translates, we’re wasting money,” she said.

Hixon has made it a goal to visit all 238 public schools in the district. She said she is very proud to have recovered money from the budget for tree pruning to spruce up the exterior appearance of schools and to strengthen and inform APEs so that there are has a link between the district and the communities.

Caring for their special-needs son Corey alone while trying to connect with teachers and families is a daily challenge for Hixon. But, she says, she knows that Chris, who was the center of her life, is with her every step of the way.

“Being able to close that gap is something that makes me feel like I’m where I’m meant to be,” she said.

Hixon intends to run again for the Broward School Board when his term ends in 2024.

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Alhadeff is running for her seat in District 4 this year. She has challengers.

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