Under a new Florida law allowing some school employees to be armed, some smaller school districts are struggling to recruit enough “school guardians.”
After the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl., in February, Brevard County, Fl., Schools Assistant Superintendent Matt Reed faced a challenge unlike any in his career. His team had to find, hire and train more than two dozen new employees to carry firearms on school campuses and protect students in the event of a school shooter. They had less than six months. The district missed the deadline, reports the Tampa Bay Times. Brevard isn’t the only school system to have trouble complying with a new state law that allows certain employees to be armed, found an examination by the Tampa Bay Times and University of Florida student journalists of how the program is being implemented.
Some small districts struggled to recruit enough so-called school guardians to keep their schools safe. Levy County launched a program, only to have nobody apply for weeks. Others had trouble with the guardians they hired. In Duval County, a school safety assistant was arrested for pawning a weapon issued to him by the school district. In Hillsborough, a school security deputy resigned after exposing students to pepper spray. The problems have piled up, largely unnoticed, even as the concept of vastly expanding the controversial program has gathered momentum. Last month, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission urged the legislature to allow teachers to participate, saying the current law is too restrictive to keep kids safe. The program was created as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, which aimed to increase school security in the wake of the shooting in Parkland. Florida school boards were required to either put a sworn law enforcement officer or a guardian on every campus.