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Parkland shooting commission recommends arming teachers, other policies to harden schools

Conservative Review

The Florida state commission called to investigate the Parkland school shooting unanimously approved a final report Wednesday making several recommendations to improve school safety — including arming teachers.

From the Sun Sentinel:

The 458-page report by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission addresses the cascade of errors revealed in the wake of the shooting, including fumbled tips, lax school security policies and unaggressive Broward sheriff’s deputies who hung back as shots were fired. The report now goes to Gov. Rick Scott, DeSantis, Senate President Bill Galvano and House Speaker José Oliva.

The report contains dozens of recommendations. Some would require action by the governor and Legislature, such as the proposals to allow some teachers to carry guns and increase spending on school security. It also calls for laws to be changed to allow school districts to raise taxes for security improvements and to require rather than simply permit mental health providers to notify law enforcement if a patient threatens anyone with harm. Many of the proposals were inspired by errors and weak spots that came to light after the Feb. 14 massacre of 17 people.

The report makes several other recommendations for hardening schools, including:

  • Understanding that school security "is the function of all school personnel and students" and requiring a security and/or "safety team" to coordinate with law enforcement and regularly meet and train on proper protocols and procedures for emergency situations.
  • Ensuring all campus gates remain closed and locked when unsupervised to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Requiring every school to have a written Code Red policy for an emergency lockdown and enabling all personnel to call for Code Red and everyone on campus to see and/or hear and immediately react to a Code Red notification.
  • Installing hard corners or safe areas in classrooms where students can hide outside of the view from the door. Teachers should have the ability to cover door windows quickly and be able to lock the doors from within the classroom, keeping keys with them at all times.

The report also organizes hardening recommendations into tiers based on funding and admonishes schools to adopt policies and practices that require little or no funding as soon as possible. Those policies include:

  • Maintaining single entry and exit points into the school if possible at a low cost. This recommendation should be revisited later in the hardening process if more funding is required.
  • Limiting interior access by co-locating attendance, guidance, main office, and other public business offices.
  • Directing visitors to appropriate entry points with clear signs and requiring them to show ID, state their purpose for visiting, be issued a visitor's badge, and be escorted by staff if necessary.
  • Training staff to challenge or report anyone not authorized to be on campus or any vehicle not parked in an authorized area.
  • Marking campus doors and buildings for identification so first responders can find entry points and classrooms.
  • Installing live surveillance and permitting law enforcement to review camera systems.
  • Installing self-close and self-lock doors where students assemble.
  • Having consequences for not following safety and security measures put in place.

Other recommendations like arming teachers will require action from the Florida legislature to change laws and increase school funding. According to the Sun Sentinel, current Florida law prohibits most teachers from carrying firearms, but there are exceptions for ROTC instructors, current military members, and those with previous law enforcement experience.

Read the full report.

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