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Lawmakers Buy Industry Fix To Protect Schools From Guns

Oct 3, 2018

Security companies spent years pushing schools to buy more products — from "ballistic attack-resistant" doors to smoke cannons that spew haze from ceilings to confuse a shooter. But sales were slow, and industry's campaign to free up taxpayer money for upgrades had stalled.

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Tampa Bay school districts are working to implement new safety measures based on assessment feedback.

Children registering for school in Florida this year were asked to reveal some history about their mental health.

The new requirement is part of a law rushed through the state legislature after the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The state’s school districts now must ask whether a child has ever been referred for mental health services on registration forms for new students.

Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano stands by his decision to keep funds in the so-called Guardian program.

This comes after Governor Rick Scott asked the Legislature to move the remaining funds to school districts so they can hire more officers.

State lawmakers are scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the state's long-term financial outlook. Also notable is what's not on the agenda.

Gov. Rick Scott recently asked legislative leaders to give school districts another shot at money some of them rejected because they didn't want to arm school staff. The Joint Legislative Budget Commission — chaired by House and Senate leaders — won't consider his proposal.

U.S. Department of Education

The University of South Florida St. Petersburg’s College of Education received a $2.2 million grant for a new statewide training program for K-12 schools.

USF St. Pete will work with the Florida Department of Education to help school personnel identify the signs of emotional distress, mental health difficulties and substance abuse disorders - then connect those students with resources.

The organization Parkland Cares, founded in the wake of the February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, awarded its first three grants to local mental health service providers Mondy, totaling $75,000. 

The Children's Bereavement Center, Behavioral Health Associates of Broward and Henderson Behavioral Health each received checks for $25,000, which will go directly to creating services, subsidizing services, or making counseling more accessible for residents. 

As students across Florida start the new school year, incoming Senate President Bill Galvano wants lawmakers to think about expanding the school-safety efforts approved during the 2018 legislative session after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Florida will soon launch a new app that will allow people to anonymously report suspicious activity in the state's schools.

Democrat Jeff Greene’s campaign bus pulled up to Jacksonville’s Northwestern Middle School a few weeks ahead of the start of school. The Palm Beach billionaire came to the low-income area to give backpacks to kids.

By law, all schools in Florida are required to employ a sworn officer or trained guard by the first day. With not enough guards hired, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is assigning officers to fill the gap.

Six months to the day after the shooting that left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — and coming shortly after the Broward County school district’s controversial reversal of a plan to install metal detectors at the Parkland school — a consultant tasked with providing a security assessment recommended against using the devices.

Metal detectors will not be installed for the start of classes at a Florida high school where 17 students and faculty were slain on Valentine's Day.

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will no longer have to use see-through backpacks, but they will have to pass through metal detectors when they return to class in a few weeks.

Parkland Panel Examines Mental Health Challenges

Jul 13, 2018

A school-safety commission examining the mass shooting at a Parkland high school heard testimony Thursday about Florida’s fractured and overwhelmed mental health system.

A commission investigating a Florida high school massacre has concluded that the suspect's connection to a student diversion program played no role in the attack, and commission members pushed aside suggestions that the program prevented police from stopping suspect Nikolas Cruz before the shooting.

Nearly five months after a gunman murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, the search for answers continues.

The big-picture question, of course, is how could this have happened?

But within that are all sorts of other questions involving issues such as mental health, guns, school security and police response.

Sarasota County Schools

The Sarasota County School Board is holding an emergency meeting Thursday on school security.  It comes after months of debate over whether the Sheriff's Office would help pay for school resource officers.


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The news that 17 people, including young teenagers, had been gunned down in Parkland while going about their school day on Valentine’s Day this year sent shocks of outrage, anguish and calls to do something to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

One result is a new law that says schools must have someone carrying a gun, sometimes called a school resource officer, who could respond in the event of a shooter on campus.

This week on Florida Matters, we're talking with Tampa Bay area officials about how their school districts are complying with a new state law that requires there to be at least one armed security guard in every school. 

The Duval County School Board heard from school police Chief Micheal Edwards Tuesday, who is heading up the hiring of 105 school safety assistants to patrol the district’s elementary schools.

Next school year the Duval County School District could employ double the current number of therapists. That’s part of its plan to strengthen mental health services for students under the state’s school safety bill passed after February’s Parkland shooting.

A retired Secret Service agent pointed out security vulnerabilities at a Florida high school two months before a gunman killed 17 people there.

Julio Ochoa / WUSF Public Media

Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam announced his campaign plans for public safety with a focus on fighting crime and combatting the opioid epidemic.

The task force investigating the Florida high school shooting massacre is set to discuss student diversion programs, school security and campus police.

The federal school safety commission set up after the deadly shooting at a Florida high school will not examine the role of guns in school violence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Tuesday.

A task force has released a report with 100 recommendations for keeping kids safe in the wake of the Florida school shooting that killed 17.

As students count down the days until summer vacation, concerned parents are scrambling to keep survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre occupied so they don't have extra time to relive the nightmare.

Sen. Bill Nelson is filing a bill to get more mental health professionals for students in elementary, middle and high schools across the country.

Central Florida Schools Beefing Up Security

May 22, 2018

With schools almost out for summer, some school districts aren’t waiting to ramp up security. Brevard Schools said even before the Texas school shooting last week it’s adding security fencing, cameras and remote-controlled entry locks.

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