Published: Fri, May 10, 2019
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

DeSantis signs bill to arm teachers

DeSantis signs bill to arm teachers

With little fanfare, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Wednesday that allows teachers to be armed in classrooms of public schools. "This was the most preventable school shooting that I've ever seen data on", Ryan Petty, a member of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, told media following the report's release.

DeSantis signed the bill in private and didn't issue a statement afterward. It was one of the more contentious bills of a legislative session that ended Saturday.

In order for teachers to carry on school campuses, their district must opt into the "Guardian program".

The bill goes into effect on October 1. They then go through police-like training with a sheriff's office and undergo a psychiatric evaluation and a background check.

A school board must vote "by a majority to implement a guardian program", giving them ultimate authority in the matter. That investigatory commission found armed teachers could have made a difference in the February 14, 2018, Parkland shooting. Last week, Reuters reported that, "in anticipation of passage, school employees in 40 of Florida's 67 counties already enrolled in or planned to take the 144-hour course".

"We need the parents and students to show up at school board meetings and say this is not OK, and this doesn't make us safer, and we're not comfortable with this", Hogg said.

The bill also has other aspects designed at protecting students, including standardized risk assessment for students deemed to be a threat and new guidelines for school-based mental health. Notably, school officials in Broward County, where the Parkland shooting took place, reject expanding the program to teachers.

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