Florida Charter Schools Still Not Prepared to Employ State-Required Armed Security Officers
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission grilled the Broward County superintendent about why charter schools in his district have not complied with school safety laws.
- By Haley Samsel
- August 20, 2019
As Florida students head back to school this month, the committee tasked with investigating the Parkland school shooting and issuing campus security recommendations said on Wednesday that up to 29 charter schools in Broward County have failed to make long-term plans to employ state-required armed security officers.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission met last week two months after reporting that nearly 200 schools did not have an armed resource officer and were in danger of not complying with the law. Now, the commission reports that all Florida school districts are conducting required active shooter drills once per month and are promising to lock all classroom doors when students are inside, among other measures.
But there are still more than two dozen charter schools in Broward County that have not established a plan to hire their own security guards. As of now, deputies in the sheriff’s department and municipal police officers are covering 13 schools that did not have armed guards in place before the start of the new school year last week.
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said these arrangements are only temporary and that his department planned to start removing officers assigned to the schools last Friday.
“It is not fair to my men, and it is not fair to this community, and it is not fair to these students who are falling prey to politics,” Tony told the commission.
Read more: Florida School Districts Criticized for Failing to Enact Required Safety Measures
Bob Gualtieri, the chairman of the committee and the sheriff of Pinellas County, urged the boards overseeing the schools to “pull the charters,” CBS Miami reported. The commission grilled Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie on Thursday about what the district is doing to address the problem, with Gualtieri calling the schools’ non-compliance “pathetic” and “ridiculous.”
Runcie said that the district is taking action: "There was a charter, we know yesterday, didn’t have an officer there. We’re moving to close and recommend that charter be shut down.”
The commission will likely discuss the progress in Broward County at its next meeting in October, where it is also expected to review a draft of its second report of recommendations for campus safety.
Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.