VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — Fifty armed school guardians in Volusia County have completed more than 100 hours of training, and many of them have been in their positions for about a month now.
- School guardian says he's already making a difference
- Principal says school guardian also helps build relationships
- Next school guardian class begins in Feb. 2019
The Richard Milburn Academy guardian believes he’s already making a difference on campus.
As Frank Hayward walks into Richard Milburn Academy each day, he is ready to protect and serve, but he doesn’t bear a badge.
"Guardian is exactly right, and I can wear this shirt with guardian on it with pride," said Hayward.
He takes this responsibility seriously by checking every person that walks through the door.
"I have to check their bags, their persons, make sure they’re not bringing in anything they’re not supposed to bring," said Hayward.
Plus he makes his rounds around the high school so everyone knows he’s there.
"(I want them) to realize I’m here to help you, protect you and to make your day a better day," said Hayward.
Principal Art Sands said he's makes them feel safer.
"Our priority is safety and the security of our students, so having those extra eyes (and) ears with someone to assist us is great," said Sands.
Not only does having a guardian on campus make students and staff feel safer, but the principal said it also helps build relationships.
"The most important thing that we can do is establish relationships with the students and with the parents so that they can feel safe, they can trust an adult who’s in authority," said Sands.
With more than 100 hours of training with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, plus equipment including a phone and sash, Hayward said all guardians were equipped with everything for the job.
"In case something happened I’d have to pull this out of my pants, put this on. It’s a sash — it says ‘guardian’ on it," said Hayward.
Hayward said he feels prepared and honored to fulfill his duties.
"It’s something that we had to earn, something we had to prove ourselves at it. I love it," he said.
The guardians are all spread out within the school district.
Between July and September, the Sheriff's Office held three guardian trainings.
Sixty-two were trained, but more than a dozen dropped the course or failed to meet the minimum firearms qualifications standard.
The school district tells Spectrum News the next school guardian class begins in February 2019. They currently have five positions open.