• Central Florida school districts debate new law allowing teachers to be armed in classrooms

    By: Michael Lopardi , Christopher Heath , James Tutten

    Updated:

    KISSIMMEE, Fla. - The governor has signed into law a bill that allows classroom teachers in Florida to be armed.

    However, the school districts get to decide whether to take part in the program and some have already said no.

    This has been a very divisive issue across the state.


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    All schools in Florida already use resource officers for security.

    In Osceola County the district has relied on resource officers for protection but will soon have the option of arming teachers.

    “This is something that if a school district wants, then they're allowed to,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “Nobody's forcing them to do anything.”

    The governor has signed a bill that expands the guardian program, which currently allows certain school employees to be armed if their duties are not limited to the classroom.

    The program started after the Parkland shooting, and a commission set up afterward recommended the expansion.

    The governor spoke about it during a stop in Jacksonville on Thursday.

    “I want people to think, ‘Ya know what, I'm not messing with the schools in Florida because I know I'm gonna face some serious pushback if I do,’” DeSantis said.

    If a school district chooses to participate, the guardians will first have to complete 144 hours of training. 
    Lake County allows some administrators to be armed, but Orange and Seminole counties said they will not take part in the program.

    Osceola County School Board member Kelvin Soto is opposed as well.

    “Arming teachers will not, in my opinion, increase that level of safety,” Soto said. “But it will absolutely increase the risk of injury, or something happening in our classrooms and ending up with a child that's hurt or killed.”

    The Osceola School Board has yet to decide the issue for next year and plan on discussing later this month.

    When asked about the new bill signed by the governor, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said "I'm not really a fan of or proponent of arming the teacher."

    In Volusia County, armed staff known as guardians do provide security.

    "The guardian program has been a huge success in Volusia County," Chitwood said. “In the ideal world, I would love for us to have a law enforcement officer on every campus in the state of Florida, if not that then Volusia County."

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