Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Education

Pinellas School Board to discuss safety after two gun incidents

Pinellas County School Board members will talk about student safety issues this week after students at two schools each brought a gun to campus recently.

Board member Glenton Gilzean pushed for an emergency meeting late last month and asked that law enforcement, school resource officers and city representatives be included.

"We need to address this as soon as possible," he said.

Board members are scheduled to discuss the issue about 2 p.m. Tuesday during a workshop meeting at district headquarters in Largo. The start time isn't firm because board members also have a regular meeting in the morning that could run late.

School officials invited St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri to participate in the discussion.

Gilzean said he was concerned about two incidents that occurred in September.

In the first, a junior at Boca Ciega High School in Gulfport brought a loaded gun to campus in his backpack. He told school resource officers that he had planned to kill himself after school.

Two weeks later, a 15-year-old at Clearwater High School was found with a gun and ammunition on campus.

Gilzean said he was unable to sleep for a couple of nights after the incident at Clearwater High.

Michael Bessette, who oversees the district's operational services, told the board that it was encouraging in both incidents that school resource officers were alerted to the guns by other students.

"That's a good thing," he said.

Board member Linda Lerner said she was in favor of having a conversation about school safety, but she said she thinks schools are safe.

"Those are two situations that are very serious, but that doesn't mean our schools are unsafe," she said.

Cara Fitzpatrick can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8846 or on Twitter @Fitz_ly.

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