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Will Madison County arm teachers?

Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.

On Wednesday, May 8, Gov. DeSantis signed Senate Bill (SB) 7030 into law. SB 7030 implemented legislative recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. The new law expands those who may serve as school guardians.

According to a summary of the bill, it:

• Requires sheriffs to assist district school boards and charter school governing boards in complying with safeschool officer requirements, including providing guardian training either directly or through a contract with another sheriff's office under specified circumstances.

• Requires district school boards to collaborate with charter school governing boards to facilitate charter school access to all safeschool officer options. If a district school board denies a charter school access to any of the safeschool officer options, the school district must assign a school resource officer or school safety officer to the charter school and retain the charter school's share of the costs from the safe school's allocation.

• Delineates that the four safe-school officer options include a school resource officer, a school safety officer, school guardian and a school security guard. The bill specifies that:

• A school guardian may be a school district employee or a charter school employee who volunteers to serve as a school guardian in addition to his or her official job duties or an employee of a school district or a charter school who is hired for the specific purpose of serving as a school guardian. The bill removes the prohibition on an individual who exclusively performs duties as a classroom teacher from participating in the guardian program.

• A school security guard must hold a Class "D" and Class "G" license in accordance with the law and meet the training requirements equivalent to that of a school guardian as a safe-school officer.

• Continues to require a district school board to opt-in to the guardian program through a majority vote and require employees who volunteer to pass a psychological evaluation and complete 144 hours of required training. The bill also requires the employee to complete the required training to the Sheriff's satisfaction and then be appointed by the superintendent or charter school principal, as applicable. Applies the penalties specified in law relating to the false personation of a law enforcement officer to the false personation of a school guardian and a licensed security officer.

Locally, Madison County Sheriff Ben Stewart stated that he "doesn't have a problem with a teacher going through the training and obtaining a conceal/carry permit, but it's a huge responsibility."

To read more of this story, pick up a copy of The Madison Enterprise-Recorder from a newsstand near you!

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