TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - An interim statewide grand jury report found many schools were not following a state law that requires an armed presence in every school, but more than half of Florida’s 67 counties are beginning the school year with a program that puts non-sworn armed guardians in schools.
The Department of Education reported the school year is beginning with 36 counties that have now adopted the Guardian Program. Some allow teachers to be armed, but the majority limit gun-carrying to non-classroom personnel.
“We will not have any teachers with weapons on them on our campuses,” said Gadsden County School Superintendent Roger Milton.
Gadsden County guardians trained for a total of 196 hours during the summer, which is 52 hours above what is required under state law.
One of those who underwent the training was Milton himself, who also has a grandchild in the Gadsden school system.
“I wanted to see exactly what the training consisted of,” said Milton. "I wanted to learn more about the officers and the instructors that were providing the training.”
Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young first resisted the idea, then quickly realized it was the only way to protect every school with the resources available.
“This gives us a level of security on campus, equipped and ready to handle a major situation,” said Young.
In Gadsden County, 31 people applied to be guardians. Only 13 made it past the original screening, and only eight passed the final course.
Both the Sheriff and Superintendent are confident guardians like Temperance Blocker will come through if they face a crisis. So is she.
"Yes, I’ve been well trained to do so. I’m physically and mentally prepared,” said Blocker.
In the end, Sheriff Young said the guardians are there for one reason alone, "To keep our children safe."
And the Department of Education expects more districts will follow suit.