TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida officials are applauding Franklin and Taylor counties for creating "guardian" programs that will allow teachers to carry a weapon on school grounds with the district's approval.
Thursday, Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran commended Baker, Escambia, Franklin, Levy and Taylor counties for creating "guardian" programs through Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program funding.
The funding essentially helps counties establish a local "guardian" program where teachers who volunteer to carry a weapon on school grounds undergo 132 total hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training before being issued a school guardian certificate by the local sheriff's office.
Teachers who volunteer to participate in the program must also pass a psychological evaluation, pass an initial drug test as well as subsequent random drug tests, complete at least 12 hours of a certified nationally recognized diversity training program, and complete ongoing training, weapon inspection, and firearm qualification on an annual basis.
“The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission report found that having Guardians in schools is the best way to ensure highly trained personnel are in place to respond immediately during a school shooting," said Corcoran. "I hope more counties follow their lead, especially now that the Florida Legislature has expanded the Guardian program.”
After the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17, Florida lawmakers passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which outlined significant reforms to keep schools safe.
There are now a total of 30 counties participating in the Guardian Program: Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Clay, Duval, Escambia, Franklin, Gilchrist, Hendry, Hillsborough, Holmes, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Nassau, Okeechobee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Suwanee, Taylor and Volusia.
Florida officials say another 13 counties have also expressed interest in creating programs.