ORLANDO, Fla. — Gov. DeSantis signed the bill allowing classroom teachers to carry guns in May, but that's not the last word on the bill.
- School districts can allow classroom teachers to carry guns
- Teachers must go through gun training, psychological testing
- So far, most Central Florida districts have no plans to participate
The bill, an expansion of last year's guardian program, authorizes school districts to decide whether to participate. Teachers also would have to go through police-style training and psychological testing.
So far though, most school districts in Central Florida tell Spectrum News that they have no plans to participate in the program.
So far, The school districts all say they already have armed school resources officers, hired security, armed guardians, or a combination of the three. Some have also said they prefer teachers to focus on education, not security. We will update this list as new information comes in.
Brevard Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Matt Reed told Spectrum News reporter Julie Gargotta that the school board has had no public discussions on the new legislation. Last year, the board chose not to participate in the program and hired trained security for schools.
"The board made that decision after weeks of listening to school staff, parents and students on the issue through surveys and a series of heavily attended town-hall meetings," Reed said.
The school district issued this statement from Flagler Schools Superintendent James Tager:
"I believe one of the factors that determine a great teacher is the ability to build positive relationships. My opinion is that teachers should concentrate on teaching students and law enforcement should provide a secure learning environment; thus the investment of School Resource Deputies in all our schools."
The school district recently decided against taking part in the program.
"In Lake, we have armed law enforcement officers and hired guardians in our schools, plus we have several administrators who have gone through the training and met the qualifications to serve as volunteer guardians. This gives the added protection we want for our schools while allowing teachers to focus on teaching, as so many of them told us they wanted to do."
We have put in a request for comment to the Marion County School District and are waiting to hear back.
Last March, the school district declared its opposition to arming teachers and opposed the bill publicly. Last week the school district reaffirmed that opposition.
The school board unanimously voted against opting in on May 21.
A school district spokesperson said the none of the board members had brought the new bill up for discussion at a public meeting. "Our School Board has chosen to go the route of utilizing SROs instead of arming teachers."
Seminole County School Superintendent Walt Griffin posted a note on the school district's Facebook page, saying that the school district had armed school resource officers in every school, and he would not recommend arming teachers.
"I believe that the only armed personnel on Seminole County Public School campuses should be Police Officers. I want to assure our community that with the potential passage of the new school safety bill, my position has not changed. As additional funding becomes available, I hope to increase the number of School Resource Officers that serve our schools."
We have put in a request for comment to the Sumter County School District and are waiting to hear back.
A Volusia County spokesperson said the district would discuss the expanded guardian program at a meeting this month.
The school board has a meeting scheduled for May 28.