Osceola Co. school board member tells WFTV safety is not district's responsibility



OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - A day after police said Glenn Bay walked into a St. Cloud elementary school and claimed someone was trying to kill him, one school board member insists it's not the school district's responsibility to keep students safe.

Four staff members rushed 20 children to safety when Bay, who police said was high on drugs, barged into the Lakeview Elementary School cafeteria Tuesday morning.

School board member Jay Wheeler said schools play a role, but said districts can't afford to be in charge of safety.

The district said it didn't consider the incident a security breach, but parents are questioning safety at Osceola County schools.

When asked about the incident Wednesday, Wheeler said, "First off, this was during extended day -- that wasn't during the regular school day."

"But parents are saying that shouldn't matter! There were kids there!" replied WFTV reporter Nancy Alvarez.

Wheeler responded saying, "And to that end, they need to be asking why local law enforcement aren't willing to provide officers before and after school."

Wheeler said questions about safety should be directed to local police agencies, not the school district.

"If they want to call it passing the buck they can, but we are an educational institution. They are law enforcement and security agencies. We are not," Wheeler said. "They have a budget for law enforcement and they're going to have to suck it up and give us more officers on campus at their expense. That's what their job is. Their job is to keep us safe. Our job is to educate kids.”

When asked about Wheeler's request, St. Cloud Police Chief Pete Gauntlett said, "Everybody is in the business of security."

Gauntlett said just adding more armed officers won't make schools safer. He said there's a lot of work to do on most campuses. "Better fences, better security cameras, better locking mechanisms," said Gauntlett.

The chief said school districts have to step up when it comes to paying for those improvements.

Several parents said the district appears to be downplaying a serious incident and the district needs to take more responsibility for security.

"I'm not saying they should carry guns or nothing like that, but they know what their role is. Not just to teach, but to protect as well," said parent Pedro Lira.

When asked about criticism that the school district is downplaying what happened at Lakeview Elementary, Gauntlett said his police department is not.

"It is a concern. You can't minimize these things. This is not politics. This is not sensationalism. This is reality," said Gauntlett.

Wheeler said he was personally working on finding money to add more security cameras to school and he said the district is reviewing what happened there yesterday.