Florida Districts Could Be Called Out for Noncompliance with School Safety Laws

Florida Districts Could Be Called Out for Noncompliance with School Safety Laws

After a survey revealed that almost 200 Florida schools have not had armed security as required by state law, members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission are urging the Florida Department of Education to “name names and name people” who aren’t compliant.

After a survey revealed that almost 200 Florida schools have not had armed security as required by state law, members of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission are urging the Florida Department of Education to “name names and name people” who aren’t compliant.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission learned at a meeting Wednesday the result of a survey conducted by the state, which Florida school districts answered under the promise of anonymity. According to the survey, 10 of the state’s 67 school districts failed to have full-time guards or law enforcement officers in place at every campus this year.

Office of Safe Schools Director Damien Kelly said that in seven of those 10 districts, the lack of armed security was at charter schools. In two of the districts, it was at a combination of charter and traditional public schools, and in one district it was at a small school program. Kelly said there are about 190 schools across Florida that are not in compliance with the state mandate.

According to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, that’s unacceptable—especially since it’s the law.

“Those charter students are human beings, and they are funded through the school board. Why in the world do they have the latitude and the luxury not to comply with the law?” Judd said.

The deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 dead and 17 injured, took place more than a year ago. Judd and commissioners Max Schachter and Ryan Petty, both of whom lost children in the Parkland shooting, have put pressure on state officials to call out school districts that were not in compliance.

"Let's name them. Let's name names and name people, name districts of who doesn't care enough to protect their children. That gives them all summer before school is back in to correct the deficiency," Judd said.

The survey results also showed that 21 districts have schools that do not conduct active-assailant drills at least once a month, another school safety measure required by law.

"Drills are required to be done on a monthly basis and why do we still have [21] districts in the state of Florida that are not doing drills on a monthly basis? We have some that people aren't even moving. These are not drills. They're just talking to them in a classroom," said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the commission.

In addition, 27 districts also reported that not every classroom door with a window has an opaque covering to pull down in the event of an active shooter, and seven districts reported that they did not have policies or procedures in place requiring all classroom doors to be locked when occupied by students.

“I don’t understand the concept of not complying when a law is passed,” Gualtieri said. “We don’t get to pick and choose the laws we follow. If it is in the law, we follow it. I just don’t understand it at all.”

Digital Edition

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    July/August 2019

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