SUNRISE, FLA. (WSVN) - The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety commission held a meeting in Sunrise on Wednesday to discuss mental health and security concerns for charter schools in the county.
While students attended their first day of school, commissioners met at the BB&T Center addressing the issue that there are up to 29 charter schools in Broward County that may lose their state-required armed security guards by Friday. Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie disagreed and said the number is much lower.
“They simply have not done it, so what that tells me is they don’t give a damn,” said Commission Chair and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “They don’t care. It’s not what you want, it’s not what you like, it’s what can you live with. The message they’re sending is they can live with dead kids because they don’t care.”
According to the Sun-Sentinel, the security guards would be leaving their posts at the charter schools because they allegedly didn’t make arrangements to stay there permanently.
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony agreed to cover the charter schools temporarily but won’t continue unless the schools sign contracts.
“How could I stand by and know that these schools are vacant and not do something for the interim?” asked Tony.
“We only have a commitment from Sheriff Tony because these charters are not acting, that he’s only going to cover them until Friday,” Gualtieri said, “and if they don’t act by Friday and sign a contract with him, he’s pulling out, so that would leave those schools uncovered.”
Tony expressed disappointment at hearing that 29 charter schools are not in compliance with new regulations for armed security even after 17 students and faculty lost their lives in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the legislation that passed to hold those accountable for the tragedy in the first place.
“So I’m disappointed that even after the tragedies we had, even after all the legislation that’s been passed to hold people accountable and responsible that I’m walking into a room, and two minutes in here I’m hearing that there are 29 charter schools,” Tony said, “so when I walk out of here, the next thing I’m gonna do is go back to my command staff and figure out what can we do to ensure that that number is zero, but I shouldn’t have to do that after hearing it when I step in front of the microphone.”
Tony managed to get a deputy at each of the 29 schools at the last minute.
He expects the commission to come up with a plan for security guards to cover them permanently by Monday.
Runcie said the number of charter schools losing security guards is misleading. He said most of those schools have a security guard on campus but a few of them do not have long-term plans in place.
“There’s probably one school that we know of that may have had an issue today,” said Runcie. “We should not be conflating long-term strategy with immediate plans to provide compliance and safety. We will try to clarify that again tomorrow when we meet in front of the commission.”
Also on Wednesday, Parkland parents stood alongside Congressman Ted Deutch, supporting new legislation for the Eagles Act, which would expand threat assessment capabilities.
“The U.S. Secret Service uses threat assessments to protect the president and the executive branch. Our children deserve the same protection,” said Commissioner Max Schachter. “Pass the Eagles Act.”
Commission board members disagreed with Runcie for a second time, when they discussed removing the Promise Program in Broward County.
Runcie clarified it is not designed to give criminals a second chance.
“The Promise Program are for infractions, what we call minor misdemeanor behavior issues in schools,” said Runcie.
Runcie plans on attending the commission meeting set to reconvene Thursday morning.
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