Pinellas school board plans special workshop to discuss school violence
The Pinellas County School Board is scheduled to discuss student safety issues for about an hour Tuesday afternoon after its regular board meeting. Board member Glenton Gilzean pressed the issue last week, saying he had concerns in the wake of two recent incidents at high schools in which students were found with guns on campus.
Both incidents occurred last month. In the first incident, an 11th grader at Boca Ciega High School had a loaded gun in his backpack. He told school resource officers that he had planned to kill himself after school. (See that story here.) Two weeks later, a 15 year old at Clearwater High School was found with a gun and ammunition. (See that story here.)
Michael Bessette, who oversees operational services, told the board that it was encouraging in both incidents that school resource officers were alerted to the guns by other students.
Board member Linda Lerner said she was in favor of having the conversation, but believes the schools are safe.
"Those are two situations that are very serious, but that doesn't mean our schools are unsafe," she said.
Gilzean said he was unable to sleep for a couple nights after the incident at Clearwater High. He suggested that board members hold an emergency workshop to discuss student safety and invite participation from law enforcement, school resource officers and municipalities. He also said that the data on incidents at schools varies depending on which agency collects it.
"We need to address this as soon as possible," he said.
Board members agreed. The workshop is scheduled at 2 p.m. Tuesday, after the board's regular meeting, which starts at 10:30 a.m.