Flagler County mom hires deputy to patrol her child's school

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FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. —

A Flagler County woman is paying to have an armed deputy patrol her child's elementary school.

At least two Flagler County school board members said Tuesday night that they are uncomfortable with how the deputy ended up in the school, and think it's unfair that the children in one elementary school are safer because one parent could afford to write a huge check.

Children at Old Kings Elementary School have noticed a deputy guarding their school.

Until recently some Flagler County school board members had no idea there was a deputy on duty at the school.

The off-duty deputy is being privately funded by a $12,000 donation from one student's mother.

The deputy has been on the job for a week, even though the school board didn't approve it until Tuesday night.

"This is the first time I, ever in my career, have had anything like this," said Flagler County Superintendent of Schools Janet Valentine.

The donation will cover the cost for two months.

Currently, both of the county's high schools and two middle schools each have a school resource officer, but elementary schools don't.

At Tuesday night's meeting, two school board members argued that leaving four elementary schools without deputies is sending the wrong message.

"That the safety there is a little more important than it is elsewhere," said school board member Sue Dickinson.

"[It gives the appearance that] this group of students is more important than this group of students," said school board member Colleen Conklin.

The Flagler County Sheriff said it would cost nearly $400,000 a year to put a deputy at each of the county's five elementary schools.

Some parent of Old Kings Elementary students said they feel safer.

"I think it's a good thing, because I would rather my children be protected," said parent Allaina Luna.

Sheriff Jim Manfre called the donation a "Band-Aid" and said he is working with the superintendent to draft a plan to have every school guarded.

"I think it's a first step. But now the school district and the Sheriff's Office has to work together to try to provide a more long-term solution," said Manfre.

The superintendent said she will present her plan to the school board to put deputies at every school next month.

Laura Lauria is the mother who made that donation. She is the president of Police Services, Inc., a company that, in the past, has provided lights and emergency equipment for the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.

Lauria turned down WFTV's requests for an interview and said the donation was never intended to become public knowledge.