SARASOTA (WWSB) - State senators took a significant step on Thursday toward passing comprehensive school safety legislation that would increase the number of armed school guardians which includes teachers in Florida schools.
The measure comes nearly 14 months after a school shooting in Parkland that killed 17 people. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a rewritten version of the proposal to give more flexibility to school districts that want to participate in the controversial school “guardian” program.
Other changes include an expansion of mental health services in schools that would include assisting students with their suicidal intentions, trauma and violence. Supporters say the expansion of the “guardian” program is needed to ensure that in case of an active shooting at a school there is an armed presence immediately available to thwart the threat. Senator Manny Diaz is the bill sponsor.
“We must have a solution at every school in our state, regardless of the size of the school and what the financial restrictions may be," Diaz said.
Several people spoke to the committee in opposition to the bill which included Brevard County third grade teacher, Kyle Savage, who used to be a military police officer in the U.S. Army.
“Collateral damage is unacceptable in the classroom," Savage said. "It is acceptable at war. We train for that and we try to minimize civilian casualties. Now I am a classroom teacher. Classroom teachers should be allowed to teach.”
The measure is now ready for debate by the full Senate. A related bill in the House has been available for debate by the full chamber for more than a week, but has not yet been taken up.