Security matters, but Pasco superintendent wonders 'where does it end?'
As we noted in this morning's news roundup, security is high on the minds of parents and school leaders across Florida as classes resume. Efforts have ranged from sending out SWAT teams to look for holes in campus protection (Manatee), to calling for armed teachers and principals (Lake).
Hillsborough parents largely expressed their gratitude for having officers placed at elementary schools, where they'll be sent through the end of the year. Some Pasco parents have asked for cops on campus, too. Superintendent Kurt Browning has continually expressed his reservations about having officers with guns at the elementary schools, with worries about the message that sends.
He recently expanded upon his views in an email to a mother who raised the question:
"Our District has always struggled with the issue of a law enforcement presence at our elementary schools. As Superintendent, I am charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all Pasco students are provided a safe learning environment. I can assure you and other parents tonight that that is the case in Pasco schools.
"Personally, I struggle with the question of, 'where does it end?' If law enforcement officers were stationed at our elementary schools, why not our churches, our parks, fast food restaurants, grocery stores, athletic fields, libraries and the list goes on and on. I can reassure you that your children are safer in our schools than they might be in other settings. This being said, I want you and other parents to know that the District continues to review our protocols and procedures to make sure they remain up to date.
"I will be meeting with Sheriff Nocco in the very near future to discuss the issue of school safety and SROs at our schools. He and I are committed to addressing these and other issues that concern our parents."
What are your thoughts about Browning's response?
The Senate Education Policy Committee will be discussing school safety options when it meets next week. Several superintendents are invited to present their ideas. "It's leading to specifics," chairman Sen. John Legg said. "I think there is a willingness to spend money for school security in the Legislature. The question is what can we do to make it most effective."