Fla. School Districts Not Complying With Safety Laws, Grand Jury Says

The report found evidence that school districts are not following the safety laws that passed following the Parkland shooting last year.

Fla. School Districts Not Complying With Safety Laws, Grand Jury Says

The Grand Jury in the Supreme Court of the State of Florida put out a new report which concluded “numerous” districts aren’t complying with school security laws.

The report said there is evidence of noncompliance with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act of 2018 and the Implementation of Legislative Recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman High School Public Safety Commission of 2019.

One requirement of the 2018 law is that sworn law enforcement officers must be stationed in every school in the state. The act gave $162 million to schools to help with the additional security.

In May, however, it came to light that school districts were scrambling to fill SRO positions in time for the upcoming school year.

“We have heard days of testimony from Department of Education, school district and law enforcement officials regarding administrative hurdles, increased costs to their districts, and shortages of the qualified employees necessary to bring these districts into compliance with these important safety measures,” the report said.

Florida lawmakers allocated $289 million in funding for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act in the 2019-2020 budget, reports WFSU. 

Wakulla County Superintendent Bobbie Pierce said the funds still don’t meet his district’s needs.

“All of the recent mental health [requirements] and with the safety and security [requirements] there has been a lot of increase funding [pressure] there,” said Pierce. “But in many cases, it has not been enough to meet the requirements and the need and so we’ve had to go into our budget to find those dollars.”

In addition, the report found that school districts and law enforcement have been disagreeing over who is responsible for carrying the required security measures.

“It appears that at least some of these officials have failed-or refused-to accept their responsibility for school safety,” the report said. “The responsibility of securing our schools is not a matter to be passed from agency to agency, it is not a budget item to be haggled over, and it is not an agenda issue to be whittled down by negotiation into minimum legally-sufficient actions.”

The report said law enforcement and school district officials have had plenty of times to implement these security laws and expect full compliance by the 2019-2020 school year. It did not mention specific districts who have been noncompliant, but the Grand Jury will continue to monitor that the laws are being followed throughout the year.

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Katie Malafronte is Campus Safety's Web Editor. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2017 with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Writing & Rhetoric. Katie has been CS's Web Editor since 2018.

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