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Lee County School Board votes unanimously against arming teachers

Posted at 11:35 PM, Apr 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 10:11:27-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lee County School Board members voted 7-0 against arming teachers Tuesday night. They said armed school resource officers are enough to keep schools safe.

The Florida Senate passed a school safety bill Tuesday that would allow even more teachers to carry guns at schools.

It could expand the law passed last year after a gunman killed 17 people at a Parkland high school. That law currently allows school employees outside of the classroom like coaches or designated police officers to carry guns.

If passed, this bill would make classroom teachers and volunteers eligible to carry guns too after a training and passing a psychological evaluation.

But even if it becomes law, school districts would have the final say. Lee County School Board member Debbie Jordan said they decided unanimously not to arm teachers and depend on law enforcement currently assigned to schools known as School Resource Officers (SROs).

“We all feel the same way. We definitely emphasize the teachers being in the classroom to teach and our SROs are there to do their job as far as protecting,” said Jordan.

Teachers Association of Lee County President Kevin Daly said the district has trained teachers to best protect students in classrooms by locking doors, keeping students silent, turning off lights and avoiding windows. He said carrying a gun shouldn’t be a part of their job.

“I think the bill to arm teachers is a short-sided way to get security on the cheap. My teachers went to college to be teachers. They didn’t go to be armed security,” he said.

But Michael LaRue who’s a parent said arming teachers could be a good idea.

“A good guy with a gun is always better than a bad guy with a gun,” he said.

He said the district should do whatever it takes to prevent another tragedy like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.

“I can just imagine what those parents must feel like. As a parent of a high school kid, it’s scary,” he said.

Next up, the Florida House of Representatives will vote on this bill before it heads to Governor Ron DeSantis’s desk.