What training is involved for school employees to carry guns?

School District of Palm Beach County considers participating in Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office conducts training for the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, 2022.jpg
Posted at 5:54 PM, Jan 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-13 17:57:26-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — WPTV is digging deeper into the possibility of select Palm Beach County school employees carrying guns on campuses as Guardians.

On Thursday, Superintendent Mike Burke said the school district is considering whether the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program has a place in Palm Beach County.

The program was established in the wake of the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018.

WATCH: School district considers allowing select school employees to carry guns

Palm Beach County School District considers allowing select school employees to carry guns


For the first time since the program's inception in 2018, the School District of Palm Beach County is considering participating in the Guardian program.

"It's more than just learning how to shoot guns. There's a whole mental side of carrying a gun in the first place, knowing that you are charged with absolutely taking a human life," said Curt Lavarello, the executive director of the School Safety Advocacy Council.

Lavarello spent years patrolling school campuses in South Florida and said there are some flaws in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program that trains civilians to carry guns on those campuses.

"We give nothing in-between," Lavarello said. "We go from zero to 100 miles an hour. We're telling them, 'don't do anything. You're not going to be involved physically, but there's a guy with a gun. Take his life.'"

Under the Guardian program, the state requires a minimum of 144 hours of training, including 132 hours of firearm safety and proficiency training, and 12 hours of diversity training. Participants need an 85% pass rate on firearms training, and a psychological evaluation is also required.

"So you don't feel this training goes far enough?" WPTV education reporter Stephanie Susskind asked Lavarello on Friday.

"No, I don't," Lavarello answered.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office conducts 180 hours of training and currently works with the safe school officers on charter school campuses.

"This is not handing out guns to teachers," Burke told WPTV on Thursday.

During a meeting with the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation on Thursday, Burke floated the idea of participating in the Guardian program for the first time.

Burke said the district is looking at putting a small group of people through the PBSO training as a pilot program.

"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.

"What type of employee would be an ideal candidate to be considered as a Guardian?" Susskind asked Lavarello on Friday.

"I think if you are going to consider Guardians and you are going to do everything right, you would want to look at your former law enforcement folks, your military folks, make sure they are well screened," Lavarello said.

Lavarello said he'd rather see more school resource officers on campuses rather than Guardians, but knowing the difficulty in hiring officers these days, it can be done effectively.

"It can be a viable option, provided we are doing everything we need to do to make sure only the highest caliber person is sitting in that position and that the training is a continual thing and we are hiring the best of the best," Lavarello said.

The possibility of having Guardians in Palm Beach County schools is still in the very infant stages, and needs to be brought to the school board for consideration. There's no word on when that will happen.

To learn more about the training involved in the Guardian program, click here.