PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The School District of Palm Beach County is considering allowing select school employees to carry guns.
It's part of the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, named after a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School employee who was killed in the 2018 deadly mass school shooting in Parkland.
Since the program was started in 2018, the school district has opted out, but that may change.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education
The issue came up during a meeting Thursday with the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation as they talked with Palm Beach County School Board members about their priorities for the upcoming legislative session in Tallahassee.
When asked about the topic, Superintendent Mike Burke said the district is considering the Guardian program, as he said Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz continues to strongly recommend school districts participate.
The program allows select school employees to carry guns on school campuses after undergoing extensive training and screenings.
Burke said the district is looking at putting a few qualified people through the training to see if there is a place for it in the district.
"This is not about handing out guns to teachers," Burke said. "This is about finding a few, a handful of people who are credentialed enough. You have to be very skilled with a firearm to pass this training. And would it make sense to supplement our school police officers — not replace — but to have a few more people potentially on our larger campuses that would be able to help out in the event of an emergency?"
Thursday's discussion was very preliminary, as the issue hasn't even gone to the school board yet. But it is something that Burke said he's been talking about with school district Police Chief Sarah Mooney.
Burke stressed that if the School District of Palm Beach County chooses to participate in the Guardian program, teachers would not be forced to carry guns.
The superintendent was very clear that this is really meant for employees who possibly have a military or law enforcement background.
"What we're looking to do is maybe put a few people through that training program that would appear to be well-credentialed with either a military or law enforcement background, and allow us to get a more in-depth, first-hand view of the training and see how that might play a part in our layers of security," Burke said.
Burke suggested someone like a coach or assistant principal who has the background to go through and pass the training and just be an extra resource on campus in a worst case scenario.