Central Florida school districts react to Florida's new school safety law
Gov. Rick Scott signs school safety bill
ORLANDO, Fla. – School districts across Central Florida are reacting to Florida's new school safety law.
Gov. Rick Scott signed a school safety bill passed by the Legislature in response to the Valentine's Day mass shooting that killed 17 people at a high school.
The bill signed Friday falls short of what Scott and the shooting's survivors wanted. It also marks Scott's break with the National Rifle Association.
It raises the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21, extends a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases to include long guns and bans bump stocks that allow guns to mimic fully automatic fire. It also creates a so-called "guardian" program that enables teachers and other school employees to carry handguns.
Here is how Central Florida school districts have reacted to the new law:
Seminole County Public Schools:
"We're greatly appreciative of the governor and state Legislature for addressing school safety and security efforts. We hope this funding will assist with increasing the amount of dedicated school resource officers on our school campuses, which is something our district has already had in place these last two years for all of our schools. We'd love the ability to add even more! However, our superintendent does not support arming teachers."
Marion County Public Schools:
"Marion County Public Schools looks forward to enhancing the safety efforts of our schools, particularly with additional school resource officers. With the state's help to pay for these additions, our students and staff can have more assurance our schools will remain safe learning environments. Our district will also examine the new options to determine what additional measures are most appropriate and likely for our 43,000 students and 7,000 employees."
Sumter County School District:
"The administrative staff is studying the content of the bill to determine the impact on our agency."
Flagler County Public Schools:
"We have already begun the first steps in strengthening the security at our schools and are working hand-in-hand with the Flagler County Sheriff to find the best ways to do this. We also welcome the financial assistance from the state to make these changes as quickly as possible. We want to assure our students, families, teachers, and staff that their safety has always been our primary concern."
Osceola County School District:
Statement from Osceola County School District Superintendent Dr. Debra Pace: "The Osceola County School Board and I appreciate the legislature's intent to allow local School Boards and elected officials to make decisions regarding school safety based on local conditions. Recently, the school board and local law enforcement agencies have held discussions and are working towards having armed school resource officers on every campus. Arming school personnel is not being discussed at this time. The school board remains committed to taking reasonable actions to ensure the safety of all campuses."
Brevard Public Schools:
"Brevard Public Schools thanks Gov. Rick Scott and our legislative delegation for delivering assistance we need to keep our students and staff safe. The bill the governor signed today will accelerate Brevard’s strategy to add resource officers, improve mental health services, and 'harden' our campuses against intruders. We are glad the new law imposes criminal penalties for threatening a mass shooting to a school, including in social-media posts."
BPS Superintendent Desmond Blackburn said, "I'm proud of our state leaders' courage to consider recommendations from both sides of the aisle for the greater good."
News 6 has reached out to Orange County Public Schools for comment.
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