Putting guns in the hands of teachers has been a controversial issue in Florida this year.
But the bill expanding what’s known as the guardian program, SB 7030, passed the State House last week and was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday.
The law will now put the decision of arming educators in the hands of district school boards, not county sheriffs.
On Tuesday night, School Board Member Terry Castillo brought the subject up for discussion.
“This is imperative,” she said. “And I think we need to give it the attention it deserves.”
Castillo then said she did not want to include educators in the guardian program.
School Board Member Tim Weisheyer quickly noted that he and Castillo would likely disagree on the issue.
He suggested hosting a workshop meeting before any decisions
“The only way a body like ours comes to the right position on this is by having open, honest, objective conversation surrounding the pros and cons on both sides,” he said.
Board Member Kelvin Soto said an item should be added to the next agenda, May 21, to vote on not arming teachers.
School Board Chairman Clarence Thacker said he was not comfortable doing that yet, and wanted to host a workshop with stakeholders first.
Superintendent Debra Pace noted that SB 7030 is a massive education bill with many moving parts – and acknowledged that things may get tricky when it comes to charter schools.
“It may be that this board will want to consider multiple decisions or options for our charter school boards, and then this board can make a decision on district schools,” she said.
Pace made it clear she was not advocating one way or another.
She suggested that representatives from law enforcement be present at the workshop.
School District Attorney Frank Kruppenbacher recommended, from a legal stand point, that a workshop take place. He also said he could provide a legislative de-briefing on the law at the beginning of the workshop.
“Whatever decision you make, you have implications as it relates to charter schools and different sections of employees,” Kruppenbacher said.
A workshop meeting on the guardian program has been set for 8 a.m. May 21. Video of all workshops and regular meetings are available on the school district’s website.