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Aronberg to convene grand jury on school safety

Report to be ready this June
Posted: 4:56 AM, Feb 23, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-23 10:14:16Z

For the second time in six years, Palm Beach County state attorney David Aronberg is convening a grand jury.

"No community is immune from school violence,” said Aronberg. “That’s why we need to remain vigilant to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to keep our kids safe."

FULL COVERAGE: Parkland school shooting  

He wants to launch an investigation on school safety and preparedness to prevent another school shooting from happening.

"The grand jury is a cross section of our entire community, people from all walks of life. They are insulated from political pressure, PAC money," Aronberg told WPTV in an interview on Thursday.

This grand jury will spend the next few months investigating school safety protocols and when that report comes out in June, the state attorney said he hopes their recommendations will turn into state law and even inspire national law.

"Time is of the essence, we don't want this to drag out," he said. "Unfortunately you can't count on Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. to do this for us."

Aronberg is calling the grand jury to evaluate protocols for active shooters and safety measures in Palm Beach County schools.

"Schools don't have hardened entrances. Some school classrooms are not even capable of being locked. To the school officer program, to the availability of high powered weapons to people under the age of 21," he said. "We're not going to shy away from anything that's controversial."

Aronberg added, "We're going to include protocols for active shooters, we're going to include guns in there -- whether or not there should be some limitations on firearms. We're going to look at background checks."

These are the same issues that prompted high school students across South Florida and the state to march in protest, demanding change.

"I think that schools should have limited access points because we have so many entrances that anybody could get into, and nobody could stop them," said Jessie Budin, a 10th grader at Olympic Heights High School in Boca Raton, during an interview with WPTV earlier this week.

Aronberg said his plan is even more crucial after learning a student at Palm Beach Lakes High School in West Palm Beach was arrested for bringing two guns to school, just a day after the Parkland shooting.

"This could happen here and we want to prevent that," said Aronberg.

The grand jury will also look into changing mental health and social media laws.

"You can't talk about school safety without talking about mental health," said Aronberg. "Our laws have not kept up with the reality of social media, that a lot of these threats are now made online."

Aronberg also said the Palm Beach County school district and Palm Beach Sheriff's Office may be called upon to testify to the grand jury. The grand jury report should be ready in June.

"We are going to leave no stone unturned," he said.

This marks the second time since his election in 2012 that Aronberg has used the Palm Beach County Grand Jury to probe an issue of great public importance:  In 2016, a Grand Jury investigated fraud and abuse in the drug rehab and sober home industries, which led to major reforms in state law a year later.