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Leon County only school district to take position on new guardian program

Posted at 5:00 PM, Mar 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-28 13:51:20-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Tuesday night, Leon County said "no" to a new guardian program that gives Florida counties the option arm teachers and staff.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act was signed into law by Florida Governor Rick Scott earlier this month.

The new legislation allows a school district, in coordination with the sheriff's office, to train school personnel, aside from law enforcement, to carry firearms and use them, if necessary.

Right now, the only school district to take an official position on the guardian program is Leon County, but other districts expect to do the same at their next school board meetings.

The superintendents in Gadsden, Jefferson, Madison and Liberty counties have all said they personally oppose the guardian program. Once again, that's not the official position of those districts.

In Madison County, the superintendent and sheriff are pursuing the idea of adding more school resource officers, but nothing so far in terms of training school personnel for the program.

In Suwannee County, the school district is leaning towards a "limited" guardian program that is "very selective." The school board hasn't made it official, but the sheriff's office is on board with the idea.

"Protecting the schools and the children, that's just a very, very, very high priority for me, and I'm going to do whatever I can to protect them," said Suwannee County Sheriff Sam St. John. "This is just an extra layer of protection to assure that if, God forbid, anything like this happened, we would be prepared for it."

Sheriff Sam St. John says there'd be a vetting process for the program. He said several ex-military personnel are already in schools that could be good candidates. They'd still go through a psychological test and required training.

Many of these districts plan to have discussions about the guardian program in April.