“SB7026 is being interpreted in 67 different ways in the 67 districts and counties across the state,” says Ralph Arza, FCSA Director of Governmental Affairs. “With little guidance from the Florida Department of Education and lack of SROs through the Guardian program], charter schools – especially small ones – are struggling to comply with the new law.”
Complying with SB7026 has been a challenge for smaller schools
August 17, 2018 – SB7026/Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act requires all public schools to have a School Resource Officer (SRO), a sheriff deputy, or a trained employee to carry a gun on campus starting this school year. While most school districts negotiated security agreements with the local sheriff’s office and/or municipalities to ensure police presence on campuses, charter schools were left out of the security agreements (and negotiated rates — leaving many of them with little option but to pay exorbitant fees to secure law enforcement presence on their campus. Employee training through the guardian program would have been an affordable option for charter schools, however, only a handful of sheriff’s offices across the state offered that training.
The Florida Charter School Alliance (FCSA), the state’s premiere charter school association, urges member schools to document all attempts to secure an SRO, requests to participate in the guardian program, and all communications with the district, sheriff’s office and law enforcement regarding SB7026. The FCSA is also collecting feedback from member schools about their challenges to comply with the safe schools legislation. “We will use member feedback to continue our outreach to FLDOE, and will share the information with lawmakers as we work with them on this issue during the coming legislative session,” explains Arza.