KISSIMMEE, Fla. — The Osceola County School Board voted Tuesday to not allow teachers to carry firearms in the classroom.
- Osceola School Board votes unanimously against arming teachers
- Vote only impacts Osceola County public schools, not charter schools
- RELATED: Florida Armed Guardian Law: What School Districts Will Do
The board made the unanimous 5-0 vote after hearing from dozens of teachers, parents, and students against arming teachers.
The vote impacts only the county’s public schools, as Charter schools will be left to make their own decisions.
Florida law mandates districts have armed law enforcement officers or guards at every school in the state. It’s part of a measure quickly passed after 17 people were killed in an attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland February 14, 2018.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law May 8 expanding that school guardian program that opens districts to arming teachers and staff members.
If districts opt-in, volunteer teachers and staff would have to complete required training through local law enforcement agencies.
The move has been encouraged by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, but accepted by few districts so far. Most like Polk, Brevard, Orange, and now Osceola counties are rejecting allowing teachers to be armed.
“It was rushed through and no one has an exact idea of how it’s going to be implemented,” said Lee Wright, an Osceola County teacher.
Wright said a survey by the Osceola County Teachers’ Union shows 70 percent of teachers in the county are also against the idea of arming teachers.
“We’re going to do here in Osceola County what we did last year to comply with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Act and that is to have School Resource Officers in every school,” Osceola School Board Member Ricky Booth said. “We’re going to continue to do that and the reason we’re going to continue to do that is because our County Commission and the City Commissions of Kissimmee and St. Cloud have decided to fund part of the program we can’t here at the school district.”
The question that lingers is what the approximate 20 charter schools in Osceola County will do.
Leaving the decisions of school safety to each charter’s individual board also releases the public school district from certain financial responsibilities.
Booth said if the school district, which has some oversight over Charters, dictated Charter schools are required to have School Resource Officers, then the public school district would become financially responsible for paying for those charter schools’ SROs.
Board members, however did say they intend to send a “strongly worded” letter to charter schools urging they too do not allow arming teachers, and instead continue using law enforcement officers.