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Madison County School District: Guardian Program resolution passed

Jacob Bembry: Greene Publishing, Inc.

In what was expected to be a controversial vote Monday evening, May 21, everything appeared calm as the vote to approve a Guardian Program resolution for Madison County Schools passed unanimously.

The Florida Legislature passed HB 7026, allowing school districts to arm some employees on-campus. The bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, calls for an armed guard on every campus while school is in session. This measure came in the wake of the tragic Parkland school shooting in South Florida on Valentine’s Day this year.

Madison County School Superintendent Karen Pickles recommended the Guardian Program resolution be adopted and mentioned that there had been a horrific shooting in Wakulla County last week at a graduation party. The shooting left one teenager dead and another charged with first-degree murder.

Dr. Pickles said that she had discussed the program with Sheriff Ben Stewart, who supported the resolution. Fielding a question about what the resolution may entail from District 3 Board Member VeEtta Hagan, Pickles said it will allow her to continue her discussions with the sheriff about the program.

Dr. Pickles, whose recommendation to the Board is bound by Florida law to follow, supports adding additional School Resource Officers, ensuring that all schools have armed guards on campus.

School Board Chair Susie Williamson (District 1) entertained a motion, which was made by District 5 Board Member Bart Alford and seconded by District 2 Board Member Carol Gibson and passed unopposed.

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