Seminole County restates decision to not arm teachers


photo by Andrea Izaguirre

SRO David Attaway talks to students before class.

Addressing the support of recent gun legislation passed by the House Education Committee on March 16 aiming to arm school employees, debate has been sparked between counties such as Flagler, Volusia, Orange and Seminole. Local school board approvals are currently being confirmed and denied.

As part of Seminole County, the policy stands clear: As Hagerty falls under Superintendent Walt Griffin who rejected the proposal, legislation stating that teachers could legally carry guns if approved is irrelevant said SRO David Attaway.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, as of January, about 726 armed guardians in 25 Florida counties had volunteered to participate in the program.

Despite the support the new legislation has gained, Seminole County has made it clear that the existing guardian program of having hired armed school resource officers put in place as of three years ago are staying. The school board has not made any adjustments to alter the current policy of allowing only officers to carry guns while on campus.

The bill aims to expand upon existing guardian programs like Seminole Countys’. Similar to previous regulations, school employees whose sole responsibility is classroom instruction are currently excluded from the program.  Those who volunteer and are eligible are subjected to at least 144 hours of firearms training, a psychological evaluation and drug test, and must possess a concealed weapon permit.

While the state debate has been whether or not to put more guns in a school environment, the legislation also encourages a wider disclosure of student mental health records, screenings of troubled students, and an increase in reporting  student discipline incidents as well as law enforcement consults.

Most local counties, like Seminole, are not planning on expanded the presence of armed personnel on campus.  Flagler County chose to utilize 13 new and armed resource officers, a commander and a sergeant, for a total of $1.8 million.

However, Volusia County chose a more unorthodox route. They have placed law enforcement officers at middle and high schools and opted to put district-employed guardians at elementary schools instead. The total cost levels out to $4 million, and the district is still working out details.

Unlike both Flagler and Volusia reaction to the recent legislation, Seminole County has stated that the current numbers of officers on campus is sufficient for the time being.