The Florida Department of Education is taking aim at schools without armed security guards after a survey revealed 200 schools are not complying with state law that mandates the safety measure.
According to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is ready to call out the school districts if they don’t comply by August 1.
“His quote was, ‘I will do a press conference and you can stand beside me and we can call out the school districts if they don’t comply,’” Judd told state commissioners after a call with Corcoran.
Judd, a member of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, added that he wants to “name names, and name people and name districts on who the heck doesn’t care to protect children.”
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the chairman of the commission, said it “sounds like a fair resolution, a fair compromise from it.”
Commissioners Max Schachter and Ryan Petty lost children in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They agree that noncompliant school districts should be called out.
The state-conducted survey found that 10 of Florida’s 67 school districts lacked full-time guards or law-enforcement officers at each and every school.
Office of Safe Schools Director Damien Kelly broke down the numbers of those 10 school districts, and charter schools made up a majority of the offenders.
Kelly said that seven of the 10 districts were comprised of charter schools. Two districts were a combination of traditional public and charter schools. The final district was just a small school program.
“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.
Kelly added that in addition to those 10 districts, there are another 190 schools across Florida that aren’t in compliance.
“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.”
Back in November, Judd called out Magnolia Montessori for not complying with the guardian program.
Alyssa Totten, the president of the school’s board of directors, pushed back.
“The Majorie Stoneman Douglas Act requires that an officer be assigned to each school but it doesn’t mandate that they’re there all day or every day,” Totten said.
Judd argued that Magnolia Montessori is “interpreting or ‘lawyerizing’ the law to their own benefit,” and that a guardian must be there full-time.
The survey, which was conducted with the promise of anonymity, found several other issues. A total of 21 districts had schools not complying with the mandated monthly active-assailant drills. Another 27 districts districts had schools where not every classroom had opaque covering for the door window, which is meant to be pulled down during a potential shooting. Lastly, seven districts didn’t have policies in place to ensure classrooms are locked when occupied by students.
“They are ignoring the law. They are ignoring the safety and security of not only the students, but the staff,” Judd said. “Shame on you, shame on you.”
Melissa’s career in writing started more than 20 years ago. Today, she lives in South Florida with her husband and two boys.