Please disable your Ad Blocker to better interact with this website.

Senate passes controversial school safety bill
Featured

Senate passes controversial school safety bill

497
0
0SHARES

The Senate passed the bill on a 22-17 vote, with Democrats and Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, opposed to the legislation’s expansion of the school “guardian” program to allow armed classroom teachers. The program was created last year and has allowed other school staff members to be armed if districts approve.

The measure (SB 7030) includes recommendations made by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which was formed by the Legislature last year after a gunman killed 17 students and faculty members at the Parkland school.

Some of those recommendations include strengthening mental-health services at schools across the state and improving communication between schools and law enforcement by enhancing districts’ requirements to report incidents that pose threats on school premises or at off-campus school-sponsored events.

“This legislation continues our efforts to proactively enhance coordination between education, law enforcement, and community mental-health resources to ensure at-risk students receive the help they need before a tragedy occurs,” Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said in a statement after the vote.

take our poll - story continues below

Do you believe there was foul play involved in the alleged Jeffrey Epstein suicide?

  • Do you believe there was foul play involved in the alleged Jeffrey Epstein suicide?  

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Completing this poll grants you access to Floridian Press updates free of charge. You may opt out at anytime. You also agree to this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Trending: GOP candidate Omar Blanco backed Andrew Gillum over DeSantis

While the Senate universally agreed those provisions of the bill were important, most of the debate Tuesday focused on the expansion of the guardian program.

Senate Education Chairman Manny Diaz Jr., a Hialeah Republican who sponsored the bill, argued the guardian program is voluntary for local school districts, and that if they do opt in, guardians go through psychological evaluations, background screenings and training on how to handle active shooter situations.

“I am very fearful about changing the program this year,” Sen. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, said. “I worry about the logistics of this program, do the teachers carry the gun on their person? What happens in recess? Will children be able to get it?”

Throughout the legislative process, Democrats tried to amend the bill to keep classroom teachers from participating in the guardian program and to give parents the option to pull their children from classes taught by armed teachers.

“The parent’s rights are not being considered in this bill,” Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, said.

Taddeo’s proposal to give parents the choice to keep their children away from armed teachers proved tricky because guardians’ identities are meant to be kept secret.

While debating the bill, Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, meticulously went over the details of the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and officials’ response to it, including how during the shooting, former Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson did not enter the building.

“I will remind you that the shooting lasted 3 minutes and 43 seconds from first to last shot,” Book said.

As senators pondered how quickly lives were lost during the Parkland shooting, they also discussed how a year later, two student survivors died of suicides. Sen. Kathleen Passidomo praised efforts in the bill to improve mental health services in schools. Last year, the Legislature gave school districts $69 million to address mental health, something Passidomo said is a “drop in the bucket.”

This year, the Senate has proposed a total of $100 million for mental health funding. Passidomo also worked to amend the bill to aid students in crisis, particularly those with suicidal tendencies and who are bullied, a provision she said was needed to help potential shooters.

“We want these students to be identified so they do not become monsters,” Passidomo, R-Naples, said.

A similar House bill (HB 7093) has moved through committees but has not come up on the House floor for a vote.

0SHARES
Tagged:
News Service of Florida

dunn
Featured
Biannual national budget legislation to be proposed
Florida Congressman Neal Dunn (R) told the Floridian that he was going to introduce [...]
Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 6.30.00 PM
FeaturedFlorida Politics
Former Bernie 2016 Staffers Accuse Campaign “of Sexual Violence and Harassment”
Screen Shot 2019-08-10 at 7.31.22 PM
FeaturedFlorida PoliticsNational Politics
Democrats continue push for stricter gun background checks
After the El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio mass shootings that claimed the lives of 32 [...]