In the wake of the horrifying tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary last month, one Florida mom isn’t waiting for the school board to make up its mind about whether or not to hire armed guards.
She’s offered to pay for one herself, at the costly rate of $32/hour.
According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Laura Lauria has already paid the Flagler County School District for two months of protection at Old Kings Elementary, and has made a “verbal commitment” to pay for the rest of the year after that.
If local media is to judge, the response seems to have been primarily positive within the community.
“I don’t know how you say no to such a wonderful gesture,” Superintendent Janet Valentine remarked. “We really have had an outcry from the community that they would like to see (deputies) at all the schools, and understandably so…”
Sheriff Jim Manfre, meanwhile, said it’s only “Band-Aid” solution until it can be done at every school.
“Nothing is as adequate as having a full-time school resource officer who knows the school, knows the children, knows the building, knows the parents,” Manfre explained. “That’s the best way to provide security at the school.”
The News-Journal continues:
Old Kings staff members are “really thankful” for the additional security, Principal Nancy Willis said. The deputies patrol the entrance and perimeter of the campus, she said.
“I think it’s very good for our students and our employees and I feel like they will feel much safer with a deputy on campus,” she said.
Valentine said she’s hoping a “national push” for more school security will result in federal dollars that will help pay for school deputies. But until then, the schools will accept their parents’ generosity.
“I think sometimes that’s what has to happen — the community needs to step forward and she has,” Valentine said. “We’re so fortunate that she’s done that.”
Families seem supportive also. Second-grader Austin Johnson’s grandmother told WKMG: “If I had the money I’d hire four or five…To know there’s someone there if someone comes in with a gun, they could try and stop them before they kill more children.”
Though the WKMG reporter said that he didn’t talk to a single family critical of the change, as the story has been picked up by national media outlets, the comments have grown increasingly negative.
“America has become a fear-based pit of irrationalism,” one Huffington Post commenter wrote. The Huffington Post article itself concluded with a word from an “expert.”
“Isn’t it more straightforward to just get rid of the guns?” Kenneth Dodge, director of the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University, asked.
FCN has more on the story, including reactions from local residents: