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Teachers with guns? Not in Pasco County.

A proposed law change would not change the district’s stance, officials say.
LUIS SANTANA | Times Former law enforcement officer Scott Bowlin, 47 prepares to enter a classroom to engage a simulated shooter during active shooter drills taught by Pasco County Sheriff's Office at Charles S. Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes. These drills are put are a larger training program for the Guardian program that will staff elementary schools with trained armed guards. [Friday June 21, 2018] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
Published Apr. 5

As state lawmakers again prepare to debate whether teachers should be allowed to participate in Florida’s armed school guardian program, some Pasco County parents have renewed concerns over whether their children’s educators might be carrying a gun in the future.

One mom who told officials a year ago she would withdraw her son if the district went that way reiterated her worries to the superintendent this week, asking pointedly where the district stands now.

The bills up for consideration would give school boards the authority to decide whether to have the guardian program, and superintendents the power to pick who would and would not be selected. Several school boards including Hillsborough, Sarasota and Orange have adopted resolutions stating they would not have armed teachers, but Pasco so far has not gone quite so far.

Superintendent Kurt Browning and the board have vocally opposed the idea, and adopted a program that uses specially trained employees whose only job is to guard elementary campuses. The district has sworn law enforcement officers in middle and high schools.

This week, Browning reiterated his view, saying he has no intention of recommending any other model for protecting the schools. Board chairwoman Alison Crumbley said she had not changed her position from the letter she sent lawmakers more than a year ago, the last time they debated allowing certain trained educators who volunteer to have guns in their classrooms.

“Our teachers should have the expectation of being protected and safe just as our students,” she wrote at the time. “They should not have to worry about being trained to handle a firearm in a mass shooting situation. There are too many ‘what if’ scenarios to think about if our teachers are armed.”

The full House could take up its measure as early as next week. Members have stressed that the decision would remain local, even as the vocal opposition mounts.

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