Few Florida School Districts Allow Armed Teachers

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As a new school year starts in Florida, the state’s plan to allow armed teachers has fallen flat, the Wall Street Journal reports. Only seven of Florida’s 67 county school districts—Bay, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Levy, Okeechobee, Putnam and Suwannee—say they have approved or would consider arming teachers, finds a Journal survey of school officials, Three others—Baker, Jackson and Okaloosa—wouldn’t say whether they have authorized the move. None of the state’s largest 25 districts, including Miami-Dade, Broward and Orange, have approved the program. “Teachers have a lot on their plates,” said Tamara Shamburger, chair of the Hillsborough County school board, in Tampa, which voted unanimously against arming instructors. “Their focus has to be on educating their kids and not fighting off bad guys.”

A month after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that killed 17 people, the state passed a law that included a new guardian program. It allowed for the arming of certain school personnel, but not teachers, who volunteered and underwent training and background checks. This year, lawmakers expanded the guardian program to allow teachers to participate if a county school board approves, despite opposition from many educators, parents and students. A state commission created after the Parkland shooting recommended it, along with other safety measures. At least eight other states, including Kansas and Texas, allow some teachers or other school employees to have guns, according to the Education Commission of the States. There are now 3,156 law-enforcement officers and 1,062 guardians assigned to Florida’s public schools.

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