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School district looks at state-required changes for students in Lee County

Posted at 3:21 PM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 04:27:58-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Controversial policies from state lawmakers, to school shootings that rocked the nation, all created changes the Lee County School District said parents should be aware of before kids return to school.

On Thursday, school district leaders said among the changes are some programs and systems the district is bringing back.

“All of our students eat at no charge to them, breakfast and lunch,” said Candace Messenger, the school district's Food and Nutrition Director.

David Newlan, the Executive Director of Safety/ Security for the school district said they are also relying on their Centegix Crisis Alert System.

An electronic badge that alerts authorities to a threat on campus.

“This is a card that you can hit the button and this goes to your local dispatch and immediately every law enforcement in the area is notified of a lockdown,” said Newlan.

Newlan recognizes a mass shooting at a Uvalde, Texas elementary school, now has Lee County School District discussing new response protocols with law enforcement.

“We want to make sure that if something happens any officer in lee county can respond to a school and get in if something was supposed to happen like an active shooter,” said Newlan.

In the classroom, controversial state policies like the Parental Bill of Rights.

“Our teachers were trained on House Bill 7, House Bill 1557, they were all exposed to the content of those bills during the pre-school week,” said Jeff Spiro, the Chief Academic Officer for Lee County School District.

Spiro said the new state policies create new forms parents should look at.

“One of the documents the parents will have to opt-in on is the health form,” said Spiro.

Wally Colone, the Director of Health Services for the district reiterated the importance of this form.

“It's really important that they fill these forms out because that way they are either opting in for health services or opting out,” said Colone.

A big change from past years.

“It’s always been a passive consent, now it's an active consent,” said Colone.

A lot of changes, but for the school district of Lee County, it's part of their job.

“For us in the world of academics, it's not new to have a lot of legislation during the summertime,” said Spiro.

The message for parents, according to Spiro, is the district wants to be as transparent as possible as they navigate some of these un-tested state requirements.

“I think it's highlighted because of the parent rights bills that are out there and that's why we want to be very transparent with a lot of the information we have which is why we created the web page for parents,” said Spiro.

Click here for the Lee County School District's Parent Portal.