CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. — This week the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Commission met to consider recommendations on how to keep kids safe in school, heading into the new year.
- Possible changes made to Florida's school guardian program
- Marjory Stoneman Commission wants school boards to decide on instating program
- If signed into law and change language, sheriff's offices would have to take part
During those meetings, the Citrus County School District was brought up when discussing the future of the Guardian Program.
Commission want school boards to make the decision on whether to instate the program, not the sheriff's office.
Earlier this year, the Citrus County School Board was against the program, but in September the board decided it wanted to consider the Guardian Program in addition to having school resource officers.
If the recommendation from the commission is signed into law, all the board would need is a majority vote to make that program a reality, despite the sheriff's viewpoint.
According to the commission, by adding the word "shall" instead of "may," Florida sheriffs would have to take part in the Guardian Program at their school districts if the majority of the school board wanted it.
"What do we need to have to better protect students, an immediate back up?" one school board member asked.
It's that question that led to the recommendation. Lawmakers would still need to sign off on it come 2019.
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For Citrus County School Board Member Douglas Dodd who is also on the MSD commission, he's hopeful this change will help better secure the schools in his district.
"One law enforcement officer may not be enough. We want to have someone else that would be trained and qualified to be able to react in the case of an active assailant," Dodd said.
Sheriff Mike Prendergast has been opposed to the program and because of the current wording of the law, Dodd said that means the district can't implement guardians.
In the new year that may not matter, but Dodd is optimistic the board will have his support either way.
"Hopefully our sheriff will be on board with the guardian program as we move down the road and we'll be able to have those guardians in Citrus County schools," Dodd said.
The next step will be for the commission to give its report to the legislature in January. Lawmakers will ultimately decide which recommendations are signed into law.