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School board votes to allow Okeechobee County teachers to carry guns in classrooms

Posted at 11:24 AM, Jul 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-25 19:32:04-04

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY, Fla. — Teachers in Okeechobee County public schools will be allowed to carry guns inside classrooms.

According to a district spokesperson, the school board voted on Wednesday night to revise its policy to allow teachers who volunteer, complete an application, are approved by the superintendent and sheriff, and complete all hiring requirements to be assigned to a training program.

Once that training is complete, those teachers will be allowed to carry a concealed weapon on campus.

In a statement to WPTV on Thursday, Sheriff Noel Stephen said:

"I feel this decision is a step forward to better protect our children. We will evaluate these teachers, train these teachers and assure they are properly prepared to deal with any situation that they are confronted with. I assure our parents that these teachers will be as prepared as each and every one of my Deputies are today."

The Okeechobee County School District and the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office have already opted into the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program under the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which was passed last year.

Through that program, school staff members who are not teachers can train to carry concealed weapons on school campuses.

The new measure passed Wednesday night would allow teachers to carry guns inside classrooms to protect students.

The Okeechobee County School District recently surveyed students, parents, school board employees, and other community members to see if they wanted the Guardian Program to expand to allow teachers to carry firearms on school campuses.

543 people said yes, while 336 said no.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act requires every school in Florida to have a school resource officer on duty, and allows school districts and sheriff's offices to take part in the Guardian Program.

The measure was a direct response to the Feb. 14, 2018 mass shooting at MSD in Parkland in which 14 students and three staff members were killed by suspected shooter, Nikolas Cruz.