Broward County may soon have armed personnel in every school

Next school year, almost every public school in Broward County, Florida, will have some form of armed staff on campus.

The Broward County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the hiring of armed guards for all of the district’s traditional public schools that do not already have a school resource officer. Charter schools aren’t included in the proposal.

The guards will differ from SROs in that they will be less expensive to staff and they will not be sworn-in officers employed by law enforcement agencies; however, they will still receive their mandatory training from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.

Broward schools are increasing security in response to the February 14 shooting at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High in Parkland, where 14 students and three school staff members were fatally shot.

Former student Nikolas Cruz has been charged in the shootings.

“I think it’s important for all of us to remember that Nikolas Cruz is responsible for this tragedy,” School Superintendent Robert W. Runcie said. “This level of violence is a national problem that school districts across the country are dealing with. Now is the time for us to all come together and stay focused on finding solutions.”

The guards’ pay

The district will require applicants to have at least a high school diploma or GED, and two years of law enforcement experience to qualify.

The Florida Senate’s SB 7026 also requires that the guard have a valid concealed-carry license, pass a psychological evaluation and drug screening and have completed 132 hours of firearm safety training.

The state granted Broward an additional $8 million to assist in covering guards’ pay, which will range from approximately $17 an hour to $22 an hour.

The county has a referendum on their August ballot to increase funding for recruiting and compensating SROs and other school security.

If passed, the referendum is projected to bring in an additional $93 million.

Two coaches are out

The move for armed guards comes after two Marjory Douglas Stoneman High coaches’ contracts were not renewed this week, according to school systems spokesperson Cathleen Brennan.

The guards had faced criticism that they failed to act during the shooting at the school. And earlier this month, the school district said it reassigned them “due to information that has recently appeared in the media and which is being reviewed by the District.”

Andrew Medina and David Taylor, both assistant coaches on the school’s baseball team, were originally listed to be reappointed to their full-time jobs as unarmed campus monitors.

But Runcie told the school board Tuesday that the two would no longer be receiving that offer.

According to a video interview released by the Broward State Attorney’s Office, Medina told investigators he witnessed Nikolas Cruz entering the campus and recognized him as a student who had previously caused issues at the school but did not confront him or call for a school lockdown.

Instead, his first move was to report it to Taylor, who hid in a closet as gunfire began.

CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to reflect that the board voted to put armed personnel in schools that didn’t already have a school resource officer. It also corrects attribution regarding the school systems spokeswoman.