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Leon County school district rejects Charter Schools USA request for resource officer

Pasco Sheriff's Office Cpl. Elissa Elders was school resource officer at Pine View Middle School in 2016. New law now requires all schools to have at least one armed officer. [MICHELE MILLER | Times]
Pasco Sheriff's Office Cpl. Elissa Elders was school resource officer at Pine View Middle School in 2016. New law now requires all schools to have at least one armed officer. [MICHELE MILLER | Times]
Published Mar. 23, 2018

A Charter Schools USA request that the 13 Florida school districts where it operates provide resource officers to its schools by April 1 has received a strong rebuke from the Leon County system.

The district is under no responsibility to pay for that service, superintendent Rocky Hanna told the charter firm, which has one school in Leon County.

"While our school district identifies with the sorrow and sense of urgency expressed by Mr. [William] Poirier, the CCUSA Chief of Security, in his request to Leon County Schools, we will not be providing a school resource officer to Governors Charter Academy by April 1, 2018," district charter schools director Beverly Owens told the Gradebook. "We have suggested to Mr. Poirier that he send his request to Renaissance Charter, Inc., which is the governing board authorized to operate Governors Charter Academy."

She noted that the charter school's governing board makes financial decisions for it, and the district's role is to make timely payments to the charter and to monitor its finances.

"The district has no obligation to provide funding for charter schools beyond what they are eligible to receive, does not have or receive additional funding to do this, and would have fewer resources to serve its own students if it did so," Owens wrote.

She further observed that the state's new school safety legislation did nothing to change charter school funding, and added that the Charter Schools USA campus in Leon County is receiving all the funds it is eligible for, including safe schools money.

"The school's board can take action to reallocate the school's 2017-2018 resources in order to hire a resource officer if it chooses," Owens stated.

Officials in other districts indicated they planned to take a similar approach. Some said they wanted to more closely review the law before responding.