Broward School Board members express support for guardianship program

District hopes to hire people with past law enforcement, military experience

By Carlos Suarez - Anchor/Reporter

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - With school now out, the clock is ticking to crack down on school safety following the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The school district, the Broward Sheriff’s Office and police departments admit it's a daunting task, and they are lacking enough officers, money and time. 

The Broward County School District moved ever so slowly Monday to figure out how it plans to have at least one armed person at its 234 schools. 

"It's going to be very difficult for some of these municipalities to reach that goal, whereas others will be able to do that," Plantation Police Chief W. Howard Harrison said.  

District officials met with law enforcement leaders Monday to go over options, including a type of guardianship program the board voted against back in April that allowed for certain school employees -- but not teachers -- to be armed. 

"We don't have a lot of time to get an agreement before our governing body before the first day of school," Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee R. Feldman said. 

Currently, more than half of Broward County public schools don't have a full-time school resource officer. The district wants to hire 80 to 100 more, bringing the total number of SROs to 266 in order to comply with a state law passed in the wake of the Parkland shooting. 

"From LEO, I'm thinking about protecting and serving. But if I'm a teacher, I'm a coach or school personnel, I may have a different thought. If I'm a parent, I certainly have a different thought about it," school board member Dr. Rosalind Osgood said.  

"It's an unfounded mandate, and the fact of the matter is that now that it's out there, parents and communities don't want to hear that it can't be done," school board member Patricia Good said.  

School board leaders expressed support for hiring people with current or past law enforcement and military experience to be armed at schools. 

However, getting them trained before school is back in session doesn't seem promising. 

Superintendent Robert Runcie said they will try their best to have all SROs hired and trained by Aug. 15.

The hope is that local law enforcement will make up the difference if not enough people are hired and trained in time, with the district covering a part of the cost. 

The superintendent hopes to have a hiring plan before the board by June 26. 

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