1. Gradebook

Florida grand jury on school safety says ‘numerous’ districts not following post-Parkland laws

The grand jury issued its first interim report after meeting for a month in Broward County.
Suzanne Devine Clark places stones at a memorial outside the school during one year anniversary of the shooting death of 17 at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl. on Thursday, February 14, 2019.
Suzanne Devine Clark places stones at a memorial outside the school during one year anniversary of the shooting death of 17 at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl. on Thursday, February 14, 2019.
Published Jul. 22
Updated Jul. 22

Click here to read this story in Spanish

TALLAHASSEE — A statewide grand jury impaneled to investigate school safety found that just weeks before the 2019-2020 school year begins, “numerous” Florida school districts are not in compliance with the post-Parkland school security laws.

That’s according to that grand jury’s first interim report, released by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office on Friday. Moody’s statewide prosecutor, Nick Cox, is overseeing the grand jury proceedings. The report did not provide details or specify which districts were out of compliance.

According to court documents, the grand jury has been meeting for the past month in Broward County. The proceedings are not open to the public.

“We have heard days of testimony from Department of Education, school district and law enforcement officials regarding administrative hurdles, increased costs to their districts, and shortages of the qualified employees necessary to bring these districts into compliance with these important safety measures,” the report reads. “Without discussing the specifics of their explanations, suffice it to say we find this testimony wholly unpersuasive.”

The grand jury also pointed to problems between districts and law enforcement, both of which are tasked with ensuring that every public school campus has armed security, along with many other mandates.

“We have seen and heard troubling evidence of conflicts between school district officials and law enforcement agencies regarding who is ultimately responsible for executing and enforcing SB 7026 and SB 7030," the grand jury wrote, referencing the two laws that were passed in 2018 and 2019, respectively, to add new security and mental health requirements for schools.

READ MORE: Florida Legislature passes bill allowing teachers to be armed

“The responsibility of securing our schools is not a matter to be passed from agency to agency, it is not a budget item to be haggled over, and it is not an agenda issue to be whittled down by negotiation into minimum legally-sufficient actions," the report continued. "Now is the time for everyone tasked with implementing and enforcing these laws to take action.”

The grand jury on school safety was impaneled based on a request by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Although it’s located in Broward because of concerns about that district’s response to the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting in Parkland, the grand jury has a broad mandate to investigate districts’ compliance statewide and issue any relevant indictments. Its term expires after one year.

RELATED COVERAGE: Florida Supreme Court approves DeSantis’ ask for grand jury on school safety


  1. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
    The sides have not set a new date for negotiations.
  2. Tony Pirotta, right, meets with his Armwood High Ought to be a Law student club and state Rep. Susan Valdes to talk strategy for the group's latest legislative proposal. They presented their bill to state senators on Dec. 9. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. Florida's Baker Act was written in 1971 by Maxine Baker, a 65-year-old grandmother and a freshman Florida legislator from Miami-Dade County, seen here in a 1965 photo. [Associated Press]
    The law was written in 1971 by Maxine Baker, then a freshman legislator from Miami-Dade County who pushed for the rights of people with mental illness.
  4. Sarah Henderson with her son, Braden, who was committed under the Baker Act after a joking remark at school. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    A cop car comes. A child is handcuffed and taken to a mental health facility. The scene is all too frequent at public schools across the state.
  5. Three Armwood High School students testify before the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 9, 2019. Left to right are seniors Maria Medina, Haley Manigold and Madison Harvey. [Emily L. Mahoney | Times]
    “The people who are cynics about politics are also the ones who complain the most,” said one student, who said democracy requires participation.
  6. Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island.
    The idea is part of Florida leaders’ pitch to address low teacher pay, though there is still disagreement over how to do so.
  7. The government program provides free lunches in schools that qualify, regardless of a student's family income. The idea is to erase a stigma.
    One manager lost her job, accused of taking advantage of the program she oversaw.
  8. Sally Henderson, a Hillsborough County teacher, is one of the few Florida educators to earn National Board certification since 2015.
    The state still has more teachers in the program than all states except North Carolina.
  9. Staci Plonsky holds art from son A.J., who has autism, that depicts his memory of being taken by the school resource officer to a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act law. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. Chanell Newell, a reading teacher at Woodson K-8 School, is a finalist for Hillsborough Teacher of the Year. [HCPS  |  HCPS]
    The winners will be announced on Jan. 23.