The commission of law enforcement officials and parents of Parkland victims released a report on Tuesday that, in part, recommended arming teachers and other staff under the state's Guardian Program in order to increase school security.
"School districts and charter schools should permit the most expansive use of the Guardian Program under existing law to allow personnel—who volunteer, are properly selected, thoroughly screened and extensively trained—to carry concealed firearms on campuses for self-protection and the protection of other staff and students," the report reads. "School districts and charter schools should not restrict the existing Guardian Program only to dedicated guardians, and all districts should expand the guardian eligibility to other school employees now permitted to be guardians."
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which examined last year's attack on the high school that left 17 people dead and 17 more wounded, said the School Resource Officer program in Florida needs a number of reforms, including adopting a centralized supervisory structure and better active shooter training, in order to operate in a more effective manner. But even with improvements, the commission found the SRO program would need to be supplemented by armed nonpolice school staff.
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"One SRO per campus is inadequate to ensure a timely and effective response to an active assailant situation," the report said.
The commission called on Florida lawmakers to improve the Guardian Program, open it up to more people, and make it easier for school districts to implement.
"Further, the Florida legislature should expand the Guardian Program to allow teachers who volunteer—in addition to those now authorized—who are properly selected, thoroughly screened and extensively trained to carry concealed firearms on campuses for self-protection, and the protection of other staff and students in response to an active assailant incident," the report said. "The Legislature should modify Florida Statute 30.15 (1)(k) to state that upon a majority vote of the School Board, the sheriff shall establish a Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program to aid in the prevention or abatement of active assailant incidents on school premises."
The commission further requested that Florida lawmakers increase funding for the Guardian Program as well as allowing school districts to direct other school safety money toward the program.
"The Florida Legislature should: increase safe schools allocation for school resource officers and/or guardians, provide adequate recurring funding for the Guardian Program and consider increased funding for individuals who are hired solely to fill the role of guardian; allow for the use of school safety funding between different categories based on need and amend current version of Senate Bill 7026 to allow for safe schools allocation to be used for new or existing school resource officers; and restore local authority to public school boards to levy up to a half [million] without a referendum for law enforcement officers or guardians, or other direct school security expenses," the report said.
Lawmakers responded to the report by announcing they would begin hearings on proposals related to the recommendations in the report this week.
"So, what are we saying to people—we’re not going to allow you to defend yourself, we’re not going to allow you to defend the kids—why? Because of some ideology that we don’t like guns?" Senate president Bill Galvano (R.) told the South Florida Sun Sentinal. "Anyone who thinks they're going to get rid of guns is crazy. It isn't going to happen. We've got to do something differently and people should be able to protect themselves.
"I am committed to making sure our reexamination of school safety policies does not end with the legislation we passed last year."