LISTEN LIVE

school safety

Many students across the Sunshine State headed back to school this week, and others will do so in the coming weeks. So, we spent the full hour looking at how school safety rules are being implemented, and the effects they could have on student mental health.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri
SAM TURKEN / WLRN

South Florida is heading back to school. Palm Beach County students started classes on Monday. Broward and Monroe Counties start Wednesday, and students in Miami-Dade go back Aug. 19.

Safety and security are still on the minds of teachers, parents, students and state officials at this start to the second school year since the Parkland shooting. Several school districts in the state — most of which are in South Florida — were found over the summer to still not be in compliance with state safety laws.

Districts Could Be Called Out On School Safety

Jun 6, 2019

After a state commission found out Wednesday that nearly 200 schools --- including many charter schools --- have not had armed security as required by state law, commissioners urged the Florida Department of Education to “name names and name people” to try to force compliance. 

children entering school building
School District of Manatee County

Another local school board has spoken out about teachers carrying firearms, a decision that comes as Florida lawmakers are close to passing a bill that would expand the state’s school guardian program.

Senate Poised To Take Up School Safety, Toll Roads

Apr 16, 2019

In two of the highest-profile issues of the 2019 legislative session, the Senate on Wednesday is slated to take up proposals designed to bolster school safety and build or expand three toll roads. 

Heading into the 2019 Legislative Session, state lawmakers on either side of the aisle aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on education. Like they have in previous years, school choice and school safety remain polarizing issues.

Bill Would Let Schools Have Opioid-Countering Drugs

Feb 15, 2019

A Senate Democrat on Thursday filed a proposal that would allow public schools to buy a type of drug that is used to treat people who have overdosed on opioids. 

Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said he wants schools in his county to be the safest in the nation.

His pledge comes one year after 17 students and staff members were murdered, and another 17 were injured, during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

One year ago, Michael Riggio was second in command of the New York Police Department's Counterterrorism Division. But just months after the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, he left the post to lead a new project at the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

The year 2018 is almost over, and Florida Matters is looking back at the stories that made headlines in our region this year.


It’s been almost 10 months since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In addition to the wave of student activism, there’s been an effort to understand the events that led to Feb. 14 massacre.

According to The Sun Sentinel, the Broward County school district knew more than it let on. It found the district hired lawyers and public relations consultants to keep information from the public. 

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.

Pixabay.com

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.


Pixabay.com

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.

Pages