ORLANDO, Fla. - Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said he thinks teachers in the classroom should be armed, and he predicted this will be phased in.
His comments came at the Sept. 9 meeting of the Central Florida Public School Boards Coalition meeting in Orlando.
News 6 obtained the audio minutes taken during that meeting.
"In 10 years, every single school in the state of Florida will have guardian teachers," he said. "It's coming. It's going to happen. It's volunteer. It's the safest, most absolute best outcome practices that you can have."
Corcoran was a surprise speaker at the meeting, where he volunteered his support for arming teachers and staff, while doing away with school resource officers.
"The guardian program - not only is it the safest way to protect kids because you're going to have seven of them, five of them, 10 of them in the school system -- it's the cheapest," he said. "It doesn't cost any money. It's completely, one hundred percent paid for."
The Florida Education Association, which represents 140,000 educators across the state, disagreed with Corcoran.
"The commissioner is wrong on teacher bonuses, he's wrong on evaluating teachers through the value-added model, and he's wrong on school security, too," said the group's president Fedrick Ingram.
Natalia Santana-Pollard said she is a parent with two children in public schools.
She said she's also part of Moms Demanding Action, which wants to keep guns away from schools.
"This is a very intersectional problem," she said. "Simply putting arms in the hands of teachers is not the only way to solve it."
News 6 asked school districts and law enforcement agencies across Central Florida for reaction to Corcoran's comments.
Brevard Public Schools responded: "For now, Brevard Public Schools is sticking with the plan that appears to work best for our community: Police and Sheriff resource officers at all secondary schools and most elementary schools, plus about 20 armed, district-employed security specialists at elementary schools, mostly in Melbourne and Palm Bay. Our specialists are carefully screened, then undergo the same extensive training for guardians that Commissioner Corcoran praised."
Orange County Sheriff's Office responded: "(Sheriff Mina) made it extraordinarily clear that he supports sworn law enforcement officers in our schools. That’s why he worked so hard, shortly after he was elected, to ensure that we had School Resource Deputies assigned – for bell-to-bell coverage – in every one of the 121 traditional public schools in Orange County Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction. He is not in favor of arming teachers for a number of reasons – not the least of which is that law enforcement officers undergo many hours of intense training in terms of responding to active assailant situations."
When asked for additional comments, Corcoran's office referred News 6 to additional comments he made on the subject in front of the State Board of Education on Friday.
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