A Florida Senate committee to develop state-wide education policies put in place a comprehensive school safety program on Tuesday that would facilitate school district participation in a controversial program of education. guardian "and would allow teachers to be armed.
The Senate Education Committee approved the proposal (SPB 7030) with a vote of five to three votes according to the parties. The vote took place after the panel of experts decided to amend the measure to allow law enforcement officers to serve as security specialists in schools instead of requiring school district employees to fulfill this role. The revised bill also gives school superintendents the task of appointing "tutors".
The changes came after the Republicans of the committee rejected a proposal by Senator Lori Berman, of D-Boynton Beach, that would prohibit teachers from wearing concealed weapons in school classes.
"My eight grandchildren and their generation deserve to have someone ready to protect them if they are available," said Senator Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala. "I ask you to understand that we want to empower people who can do something, they are the only ones who will be there in a short time to save those lives."
The school guard program, which is part of a broad law created in response to the mass shooting of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last February, allows school staff to carry concealed weapons on campus after undergoing extensive training.
Under current law, county sheriffs must approve the guardian program for school districts to implement. The Senate measure approved on Tuesday would give school districts the power to implement the program.
On Tuesday, the two-hour debate focused on the controversial guardian program, but the proposed package includes a redesign of other security measures in schools.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Manny Diaz, called the proposal "monumental" and said it was designed to include most of the recommendations made in a 458-page report written by the Public Safety Commission Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
The commission has largely spoken out in favor of extending the "guardian" program and has recommended strengthening the schools' requirements to report crimes and other security-related incidents, as well as the penalties applicable to superintendents. who under-report such incidents.
"One year ago this week, we committed to the students and families of Parkland to do everything in our power to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. That is why I am very pleased that this crucial legislation on school safety is at the heart of the commission's recommendations, "said Senate Speaker Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, in a statement, following the committee's work. committee.
But Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat who is the CEO of the Florida Association of School Superintendents, has questioned the weapons policy of teachers.
"We are about to consider a monumental change in public education," said Mr. Montford. "We are moving the mission of public education from a teaching mission to a mission of teaching and law enforcement."
Most members of the public who spoke before the committee focused on legislators' efforts to have more armed teachers in the schools. Dozens of people, including several members of the Moms Demand Action Action firearms group, have come out against this part of the proposal.
Berman argued that the guardians program is less than a year old and that "there is no evidence that its functioning works".
"We have not seen any cases where the guardians program has proven effective, so why are we expanding it?" She asked.
Diaz acknowledged that no study shows that the guardians program has been operating since it came into effect less than a year ago. But the Republican Hialeah, he wants to "go with the work of the commission."
"Some members of this commission were totally opposed to any member of the armed personnel and, having sat on this commission, they presented this recommendation to us," he said.
The proposal is still in its infancy and will likely be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee to address funding issues before it votes in the Senate, Diaz said.
Galvano's office also said on Tuesday that another bill, which is expected to be tabled in the coming weeks, would seek to implement the commission's recommendations on strengthening the duty of 911 emergency services. to alert school districts in the event of a threat.