Bay District School Officials in Favor of Bill Expanding Guardian Program to Teachers

News

After a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, lawmakers rushed to pass a large school safety bill. 

Part of that bill is the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program that allows sheriff’s departments to train and arm school employees whose primary duties are outside classrooms to be designated as guardians. Fewer than half of the 67 school districts in the state have decided to use guardians this year. Bay County is one that did. Lawmakers want to expand the program and allow classroom teachers to carry a gun if they qualify.

“I don’t want people to think it’s a quick process, nor is it easy nor does everyone qualify,” said superintendent Bill Husfelt. 

District officials are in favor of the bill saying the person must still go through a rigorous background check and complete extensive training from law enforcement.

“I don’t want to ask a teacher to just put their body in front of someone, God forbid that would happen, I want to allow some of them to be able to do it and be able to do it with a chance to survive as well,” said Husfelt.

“The funding is there. The state not only trains them but also buys their weapon, does their recertification training,” said district police chief Mike Jones.

All Bay County schools now have an armed school resource officer but Husfelt said the guardians add an extra layer of protection. 

“It’s not that I want to put a gun in every teacher’s hands but I don’t want to have to depend on one person to protect a school with five hundred to a thousand or two thousand kids,” said Husfelt.

Critics of this proposal say adding more guns in schools is not a solution and there’s no proof the program is effective. 

Members of the Florida Senate will consider the bill on Tuesday. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

More Marketplace