Orange County welcomes back students with new security plan

Deputies will patrol most elementary schools in county

ORLANDO, Fla. - Students in unincorporated Orange County arrived to school following winter break to a sheriff's deputy.

It is part of a multimillion dollar plan to keep your kids safe. Dorinda Renfroe's son goes to Lancaster Elementary, she said, "I woke him up this morning I said, 'Slater, it's time for school. He said 'yay' and jumped up out of the bed."

When kindergarten student, Slater, got to Lancaster Elementary, he was greeted by an Orange County Sheriff's Deputy. So were thousands of other students across 78 elementary schools in unincorporated Orange County.

Dora Gracesqui has an 8-year-old child at Lancaster, she said, "For us, the parents, it's more security for us."

That is exactly why Mayor Teresa Jacobs requested the plan.

She told Local 6,  "This was proposed as a temporary measure till the end of the year for two reasons: first, to give our kids peace of mind coming back to school. I think most of us felt safe at school and still do but this has certainty rattled us."

The other reason is for the district to brush up on its procedures.

"We are going to be very strict on our visitor procedures because we have to be," said Superintendent Doctor Barbara Jenkins.

Dr. Jenkins, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, and Mayor Jacobs talked about the 3 million dollar plan you're paying for.

Demings said, "Deputies will be assigned anywhere from half days to full days at the various elementary schools and, of course, we won't share specific details on how that will go on."

This is why, Monday, not only are kids like Slater excited about school, but are parents.

Renfroe said, "Normal people don't have the kind of training that these deputies have, I mean, they could stop a person where we might not could."

The sheriff says this is a daunting task and would not go into specifics about the logistics because of the obvious safety concerns, but again, parents, students, teachers can expect to see this until the end of the school year.

The new patrols are part of a plan commissioned by Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. After the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., Jacobs announced a $3 million plan to add a deputy at each of the 78 elementary schools within unincorporated Orange County.

In a news release, Orange County Schools said besides adding deputies, the district will add an array of enhanced security procedures, not limited to more protective visitor policies, increased surveillance and more lockdown drills.

Many parents look forward to the extra attention placed on school safety.

"Look at what happened a couple weeks ago," said Ray Francois. "Nobody expected that to happen, so I applaud the mayor for coming up with that idea."

"It would make me feel great dropping [my nephew] off if there's law enforcement there. Definitely makes me feel better," said Simon Urena, who's an uncle to an Orange County elementary school student.

For the 60 elementary schools within city limits, an additional law enforcement presence will be up to city leaders and won't be funded by the county.

Many city mayors will meet this Friday to address security concerns, which may include providing extra officers.

The deputy presence is only temporary and will remain in place for the rest of this school year.

However, there is already some backlash. Bill Sublette, chairman of the Orange County School Board, doesn't believe the deputies make students any safer.

Sublette told Local 6 he fears giving children the impression that schools should be treated like fortresses. 

"Frankly, I don't think it's something the school board wants going forward, we don't want to turn our elementaries into armed camps, we don't want to turn into fortresses, they're elementary schools," Sublette said.

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