COUNTY BY COUNTY: What schools in your district are doing to keep students safe

All Florida public schools are required to have at least one school resource officer

Police block off the road leading to the scene of a school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde on Tuesday. It was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history. (For The Washington Post, For The Washington Post)

CENTRAL FLORIDA – In light of the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, News 6 asked school officials in every Central Florida county about the safety measures in effect to keep students, teachers and staff safe.

In Florida, state law requires schools to take advanced precautions to prevent mass shooting events and intervene in dangerous situations before they occur. These requirements include mental health services and training, safe-school officers at every state public school and increased funding for school safety needs.

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Though there are guidelines for every public school in the state, every district handles student safety differently.

Brevard County:

Brevard Public School officials said there is at least one School Resource Officer (SRO) or a School Security Specialist at each school.

According to the Brevard Public Schools’ website, there are 27 armed SROs spread throughout the schools in the district with the mission to “confront school shooters with lethal force, if necessary”.

Flagler County:

Flagler County school officials said the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office provides two School Resource Deputies to each high school in the area and one at each middle and elementary school.

After the 2018 shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Flagler Schools said it increased the number of cameras at all schools, along with adding other state-mandated security enhancements.

“(It’s) important to note, that we, as well as our law enforcement partners, examine what happened when violence strikes any school across the country and re-evaluate what we are doing locally,” said Jason Wheeler, Community Information Specialist with Flagler Public Schools.

Lake County:

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has a School Resource Unit that is comprised of a Bureau Commander, a lieutenant, two sergeants, two corporals, 29 deputies and one K-9 deputy that provides service to all public schools and one charter school in Lake County, according to the Sheriff’s Office website.

“Thanks to the generosity of Lake County taxpayers, who supported a school safety tax referendum four years ago, every public school in Lake has a School Resource Officer/School Resource Deputy and/or school safety officer on campus,” Sherri Owens, administrative coordinator for Lake County Schools, said.

Lake County schools also have mental health liaisons on every campus to help identify and address troubled students before their issues become safety concerns, Owens said.

Marion County:

Marion County school officials said there are 56 SROs throughout all schools in the district; however, News 6 was told they could not disclose how many officers are at each school for safety reasons.

Orange County:

According to Orange County Public School officials, there is at least one SRO at every elementary and middle school in the county, and two at each high school.

“We remain vigilant in our efforts today and every day to protect our students and staff,” Michael Ollendorff, OCPS Media Manager said, “We continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to provide a safe learning and working environment for all.”

Osceola County:

An Osceola County Public Schools spokesperson said all elementary, middle and K-8 schools throughout the district have one SRO full-time on campus and all high schools have two SROs. The SROs in Osceola County are law enforcement officers employed by the City of Kissimmee Police Department, the City of St. Cloud Police Department and the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.

A district spokesperson also said Osceola County Public Schools comply with all requirements listed in the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas legislation, do not share security information “as those with ill will may learn how to get around us” and work to ensure the safety of its students and staff.

“For the remainder of this last week of school prior to summer break, we have additional safety precautions in place and law enforcement presence around our schools. We are also sharing information with parents, students, and staff regarding available mental health resources as everyone works to process this unbelievable tragedy,” an Osceola County Public Schools spokesperson said.

Seminole County:

Seminole County officials said they are dedicated to keeping at least one SRO in each school, but there are two at each high school campus. There are also anywhere between three and four SROs at the Seminole High School 9th Grade Center.

The county has also used increased funding to update cameras and fencing at all campuses.

Sumter County:

Sumter County Superintendent, Richard Shirley said there is at least one SRO at each school, but could not share exact details about other measures due to security protocols.

Volusia County:

Volusia County Schools said it has a total of 105 armed SRO/SRD/School Guardians dispersed throughout the district, but would not disclose how many are on each campus for security reasons.

A Volusia school district spokesperson issued the following statement:

About the Authors:

Penny De La Cruz started working at WKMG-TV in September 2021. Before joining News 6, Penny worked at KSAT 12 in San Antonio, Texas.

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.