Osceola County schools react to Douglas report

Florida schools have changed in many ways since a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School nearly a year ago.

Improvements to mental health services and school hardening measures are just some of the steps taking place in districts across Florida.

Now, a special safety commission formed after the shooting in Parkland has released a report with suggestions for state officials in Tallahassee.  

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission presented its 458-page report last week with recommendations that include arming teachers, assailant training for school personnel and greater transparency between law enforcement and school mental health professionals.

Locally, Osceola County School District officials said they’ve worked to implement many safety procedures and upgrades in the wake of Parkland, according to Public Information Officer Dana Schafer.

Due to security reasons, however, the district was unable to give specific details.

Schafer did note that the district is lucky to have a great working relationship with all local law enforcement agencies and government boards.

Placing a school resource officer at every school, for example, is a major accomplishment Schafer credits to the teamwork put forth by community partners.  

“They have all made school safety a top priority here in Osceola County,” she said. “We’re fortunate to have them on our side.”

Moving forward, Schafer said student safety will continue to be a top priority for the district, which will work to implement new changes lawmakers might approve this year.

Some recommendations would require action by the governor and Legislature to take effect, such as arming teachers and increasing school safety spending. The Legislature convenes in March, but the report is expected to reach lawmakers at the Senate Education Committee this week, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Highlights from the safety report include:

 Classrooms should have specific safety measures, such as hard corners, that are not visible from doorways.

 All Florida public schools should immediately provide law enforcement with live and real-time school camera footage.  

 Student mental health and counseling records should be part of a student’s school records and follow them from school to school.

 The state Legislature should increase funding for school resource officers and give districts more freedom with how they spend security-related funds.

 All campus gates must remain locked, unless staffed, to prevent unauthorized access.

 All school resource officers should be issued rifles and bulletproof vests.

The commission met over an eight-month period, taking testimony from witnesses and investigators to examine what led to the massacre.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission consists of law enforcement officers, public officials and parents of the murdered students.