Florida education leaders discuss new school safety legislation

School leaders say they don't think teachers should be armed

By Mark Lehman - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Education leaders from across Florida discussed new school safety legislation at a meeting in Orange County Monday morning.

Coming together for the first time since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14, the Coalition of School Boards talked about Senate Bill 7026, which was signed into law Friday.

"I do believe that it is our first and foremost responsibility to keep children safe," Sumter County Superintendent Rick Shirley said.

One of the biggest concerns from school leaders was a part of the new law that could allow some teachers to be armed while at school.

"It certainly wouldn't be my first preference for a classroom teacher to be carrying a gun," Shirley said.

A marshal-type program is something that was also covered in a proposal by the Trump administration released Sunday night. Most school districts in Central Florida have said they would prefer school resource officers be the only armed personnel on campus.

"Each county should have its own option to decide, but here every teacher that I have talked to has said this (a marshal program) is not something that they want. This is not something that makes them feel safe," Orange County District 3 School Board member Linda Kobert said.

An overhauling of the mental health system was also discussed, which some school leaders said is vital.

"Mental health is a big issue. We are able to identify troubled children who have a history of violent behaviors and who have been Baker Acted," Shirley said.

The new legislation also raises the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21 and extends a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases to include long guns.

The National Rifle Association immediately filed a federal lawsuit against Florida, saying the age-minimum section of the law violates the Second and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The NRA argues people who are 18 years old are considered adults "for almost all purposes and certainly for the purposes of the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights."

The organization also contends federal law already prevents many Americans 21 or younger from buying certain types of guns.
 

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