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Senate bill would allow armed teachers in Guardian program

The measure is primed to move, with its first hearing set for Feb. 12.

A month after saying Florida’s school safety law needs “tweaks,” the state Senate Education Committee has filed a 29-page bill to start the conversation.

Its first section would delete language prohibiting teachers from participating in the armed Guardian program lawmakers established last year. The state school public safety commission has recommended such a move, to loud opposition from critics.

The committee also would require county sheriffs to establish a Guardian program if their local school boards vote to implement one. Currently, some boards have found their sheriffs unsupportive of the program.

The bill also would allow contract employees to serve as guardians after proper training.

Also in reaction to the commission, the lawmakers have proposed having the state education commissioner monitor districts' compliance with required safety and security actions, identify noncompliance, and and "impose or recommend to the State Board of Education, the Governor, or the Legislature enforcement and sanctioning actions."

Commission chairman Bob Gualtieri, the Pinellas County sheriff, has criticized districts as dragging their feet in implementing security measures. He called for penalties for those that don’t meet the mark. A number of superintendents, including Pasco County’s Kurt Browning, have taken issue with Gualtieri’s comments.

In other key sections, the bill calls for a committee to review and prioritize school hardening projects, the creation of a statewide behavior threat assessment instrument and database, and improved incident reporting.

The bill appears on a fast track, with its first committee hearing scheduled for Feb. 12 — two days before the anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Read SB 7030 for more details.