Stoneman Douglas to reopen Wednesday for week of 'folks coming together'

Superintendent Runcie angered over MSD officer's refusal to act

By Peter Burke - Managing Editor, Andrew Perez - Reporter, Carlos Suarez - Anchor/Reporter

PARKLAND, Fla. - Students will return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School next Wednesday on a modified schedule for what Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie calls a "week of transition."

Speaking at a briefing outside the Parkland school Friday, Runcie went over plans for the return of students and also expressed his anger over learning the school's resource officer did not act during the mass shooting that killed 17 people.

The modified schedule will run from 7:40 a.m. through 11:40 a.m which is basically a half day.

"It's a week of folks coming together, reconnecting and going through the healing process," said Runcie.

Freshman Building 12, where the shootings occurred, has been sealed off and will not be reopened. Students who were in classes in the building will be moved to other locations on campus and will remain with classmates. The state claims it will cost $28.5 million to tear down the building and build a new one.

Runcie added that counseling and support systems will be provided for students, teachers and staff. 

According to the Superintendent, BSO will be arming school resource officers with automatic rifles on school grounds on a short-term precautionary measure to defend against any copycat attacks. Officers will not be armed with automatic weapons at the county's elementary schools.

"I'm extremely upset, outraged." Runcie said about learning school officer Scot Peterson refused to go inside the building when Nikolas Cruz fired on students and staff.

"It's inexcusable. I was happy to see Sheriff Israel dealt with it swiftly. It's just really outrageous, I'll just leave it at that. There are no other words to describe what we heard [Friday]."

Runcie went on to say that he has seen no evidence that any other Broward Schools resource officers have acted in the same way as Peterson.

In regards to arming teachers, Runcie says he is against the proposal floated by President Trump to arm teachers and believes securing schools should be left up to trained personnel.

"If we really want to do something, spend money on adding more school resource officers and law enforcement officers out there," said Runcie. "Asking our teachers to carry guns, to me, that's an easy way out. We got to do a better job in investing in education and making sure our schools are as safe as possible."

Teachers and staff at Stoneman Douglas headed back to campus Friday for discussions to meet staff members' needs, with a variety of support services.

Attendance was not mandatory.

Christopher Maddox is one such teacher that returned to school Friday.

"We up and left and the room has just been that way, so I'll go into the room for the first time and I've got to put the laptops up and, you know, straighten up," Maddox told Local 10 News.

A growing memorial sits outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after the mass shooting at the Parkland school that killed 17 people.

Another teacher, Jim Gard, said they will be focusing on trying to get things back to normal for the students.

"You know, we're teachers. We care about the school. We care about the kids. You know, we're not going to let this beat us," he said. "They put a lot of people's minds at ease that we're going to try get back to as normal as possible and really take care of the kids."

Memorials continue to surround the school as counselors were on site to speak with any teachers or school employees. 

Staff members said they were comforted by each other's presence Friday.

"I have to say, it was hard to go back in, but when I saw my coworkers, I saw my administrators, especially our principal, it's been comforting," teacher assistant Diana Cortes said. 

Hours after teachers arrived at the school, hundreds of students from West Boca High School made the 10-mile walk to Stoneman Douglas for the second time to pay their respects at a memorial outside the school.

"It was really devastating, because I knew people that passed away -- friends -- so it breaks my heart," one student said. "We have to push for them and understand that guns don't kill people, people kill people."

The students were welcomed by Stoneman Douglas teachers.

"To watch all of these kids do this is absolutely beautiful," Elizabeth Smith said. "We instilled confidence in them, we've instilled eloquence. If you've seen these kids talking, you know, they are talking with intelligence."

A voluntary campus orientation for all Stoneman Douglas students and their parents is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Teachers and staff who don't come back Friday will be required to return Monday and Tuesday for planning days.

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