District reacts to Scott’s gun law proposal

Gov. Rick Scott

By Rachel Christian

Staff Writer

Gov. Rick Scott laid out a $500 million school safety package Friday that includes some major changes to gun restrictions following the Feb. 14 mass shooting in Broward County that left 17 people dead.

A special closed-door meeting is being held in Osceola County today between law enforcement leaders and

Gov. Rick Scott

education officials to examine ways to improve school safety across the district.

“It’s something we take very seriously, and we’re always looking for ways to improve and keep students safer,” said Dana Schafer, public information officer for Osceola County School District.

Scott’s plan includes the following measures:

• $450 million to put a law enforcement officer in every public school, and one officer for every 1,000 students by the 2018 school year.

• Does not include a measure for arming teachers.

• Increased Safe Schools funding to provide metal detectors, bulletproof glass, steel doors. Safety plans would be required before money would be spent.

• Hire more mental health counselors to serve every student at school. They can’t serve dual roles, like teachers or coaches.

• Department of Children and Families caseworker assigned to all 67 county sheriffs in Florida.

• No ban on specific weapons like the AR-15.

• No waiting period before purchases.

• A law requiring all people buying firearms to be 21 or older.

• An increase in gun purchase restrictions for those who have been committed under the Baker Act.

• A new program, Violent Threat Restraining Order, would allow police to remove fire arms from those who are mentally ill.

• A ban on bump stock sales.

• Mandatory active shooter drills in all Florida schools by the fall 2018 semester.

• New “See Something, Say Something” hotline, website and mobile app.

• May abandon more than $180 million in planned tax cuts to pay for school safety program. Urged lawmakers to not pursue money for hometown project

There are currently 34 law enforcement officers stationed at Osceola schools, Schafer said. If Scott’s proposal passes, the district would need to add about 36 additional armed officers. Six of the 34 current officers are from the Kissimmee Police Department, while the others report to the Sheriff’s Office or St. Cloud Police Department.

Schafer said the School District works closely with nine community agencies to provide mental health services, such as school therapists, to struggling students. Schafer said she believes the district has a strong support system in place, but added that additional funding for services is never a bad thing.

The proposed changes will have a short time to get the legislation passed.

The changes must be approved in the next two weeks of the annual legislative session which is scheduled to end March 9.