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Florida Senate Introduces Bill To Update School Safety Law, Address School Guardian Training Requirements

SPB 7040 would require sheriff’s offices to conduct psychological evaluations before a school employee is trained to be a guardian and limit that training to sheriff’s offices.

Following the release of a grand jury report critical of the implementation of new school safety regulations in Florida, the state’s Senate Education Committee has introduced a new bill to address concerns about training requirements for “school guardians” and oversight of districts’ school safety plans.

The bill, SPB 7040, was filed Thursday, and is scheduled to be discussed at a Senate hearing today. Under the proposed legislation, the sheriff’s offices would have to “review and approve” psychological evaluations, drug test results and background checks of school staff before they can enter training to be a school guardian, according to CBS Miami.

Guardians can be school employees who volunteer for the position or personnel hired specifically to act as school security. All guardians must pass psychological and drug screenings as well as complete at least 144 hours of training.

One complaint lodged by the grand jury, known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, was that several employees completed the required training but were then told they could not participate in the program because of “defects in their background” or some other failure in the vetting process, including psychological evaluations.

“Not only does this waste taxpayer resources, it compromises the plans of school officials who believe they are making sufficient efforts toward compliance only to later find out that their intended designees are not eligible to serve,” the grand jury said in the report.

In addition, the bill would prohibit private security companies from training guardians, making sheriff’s offices the only entities permitted to hold trainings. This element of the bill comes from a controversy in Palm Beach County in which the district hired a security firm to handle training without knowing that the company was not meeting requirements laid out in state law.

The local sheriff’s office discovered that the company, Invictus Security, had passed candidates who failed firearms tests and did not meet psychological qualifications. The issue has led the legislature to limit training to sheriff’s offices.

Other measures in the bill include a provision to enforce stricter regulations on how districts report campus crime as well as a requirement that school guardians be trained on night and low-light shooting conditions, according to The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

District school boards would also be required to adopt family reunification policies, and school safety officers that are sworn law enforcement would have to complete mental health crisis intervention training.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

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