Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Pasco County schools get head start on hiring security guards

Pasco County schools have already begun hiring security guards to monitor elementary schools, just days after creating the new position.

Florida's school districts have until August to recruit, hire and train at least one armed officer or guard for every campus under state law adopted in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Broward County.

Many officials have worried they don't have enough time, money and qualified manpower to get the job done — especially with many local governments refusing financial help. But they're racing to make it happen.

When Pasco first adopted its plan — a hybrid between a district police force and armed employees — it was among the first in the state to do so. Even then, superintendent Kurt Browning raised questions about getting everything in place before classes resume in the fall.

Since then, several more districts including neighboring Pinellas and Hillsborough, have jumped on board with the same idea, potentially vying for the same applicant pool.

Teams of Pasco school and Sheriff's Office employees began interviewing candidates on May 10 and had nine offers out within the day. Another 28 applicants were approved but awaiting background checks.

Many were retired police and military.

The district plans to hire 53 guards and one security director. It has another round of interviews scheduled for May 21.

Those candidates who are hired will get one week of paid orientation and classroom training June 4-8, and 132 hours of paid Pasco Sheriff's Office training between June 11 and July 10. Guards also will undergo drug, psychological, and fitness assessments, district officials said.

Related: The new struggle for Florida schools: Paying for education — and security 

[Note: This post has been updated to reflect the correct amount of Sheriff's Office training the guards will receive.]

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