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Florida school safety commission issues its report — including a call for some armed teachers

The commission convened in the aftermath of a deadly school shooting in Parkland in February.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission on Wednesday released its long-awaited findings and recommendations in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 Parkland high school shooting — including a call to allow some teachers to carry weapons on campus.

Facing pushback against the idea of gun-toting teachers, the Florida Legislature initially rejected the concept, instead allowing only non-instructional staff to serve as armed guardians. Many districts moved to hire security officers, after finding the money allocated for sworn law enforcement inadequate to place at least one resource officer at each school.

In its 458-page report, the commission recommended expanding participation:

"[T]he Florida legislature should expand the Guardian Program to allow teachers who volunteer—in addition to those now authorized—who are properly selected, thoroughly screened and extensively trained to carry concealed firearms on campuses for self protection, and the protection of other staff and students in response to an active assailant incident."

Word that such a proposal might emerge arose over the Thanksgiving break, when chairman Bob Gualtieri, also Pinellas County sheriff, announced his change of heart on the concept of letting teachers carry guns.

The response came quickly, with much of it opposed, including among educators and some other law enforcement leaders. The idea now heads to the governor and Legislature for possible action, along with several other recommendations.

Those include:

– Improving school resource officer:student ratios.

– Providing additional, recurring revenue to pay for school protection and preventive measures.

– Development of best practices for hardening school buildings and grounds for increased security.

– Streamlining of communication systems among school systems and law enforcement agencies.

Read the full report here for more details. The commission remains in place through 2023, giving it time to review implementation and refine security plans.

"This Commission will continue to proffer recommendations and findings as our work continues," the group wrote in the preface to the document. "We will not wait, we will be vigilant and we, like the legislature, expect compliance and change with urgency."