‘An asinine idea:’ Comments for and against arming teachers and staff discussed at DCPS meeting

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Parents are sounding off on arming teachers at Duval County schools. At tonight’s school board meeting, a handful of people shared their concerns about the Guardian Program -- an effort to train teachers and staff to have guns while in school.


During public comment tonight, many shared their disapproval about what was said in a workshop from about two weeks ago.

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

One person during public comment said, “I can’t find any data that arming teachers makes our school safe.”

Another person said, “It’s unfair to our teachers. They are already saturated with enough responsibilities without adding burden and liability of potential lethal force to their duties.”

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri spoke at the Feb. 20 DCPS workshop about why it’s important to have the guardian program.

In 2018, a gunman shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

RELATED: DCPS school board member holds meeting about Florida Guardian Program

This prompted change and better safety protocols within the schools.

“You gotta have armed people on the campus. And, you have to view this through the lens of not what you want, not what you like, but what you can live with? So my view of it changed,” Sheriff Gualtieri said.

The guardian program is a statewide voluntary program that would allow for the local sheriff’s office to train teachers and staff members to protect students with guns.

“And, that could be anyone from a maintenance person, plan operator, a teacher to a coach to a principal to somebody else,” Sheriff Gualtieri said.

He said the training would be more extensive and require more skill sets than a trained law enforcement officer.

“They’re going about their daily tasks and responsibilities, they’re carrying a gun, but it’s concealed, nobody knows they have it,” Sheriff Gualtieri said. “They carry it in a retention holster so that it is safe

RELATED: Educators, residents give mixed opinions on Georgia’s controversial proposal to arm teachers

In an emailed statement, school board member April Carney said in part, “At this time, the Board has had no other discussions regarding the Guardian Program, but given the recent influx in school threats, I think it is safe to say that this Board will do everything possible to ensure a safe learning environment for our students.”

“Arming teachers and school staff is an asinine idea, asking teachers to turn into sharp shooters in high-stress situation is insane. And the reality is they are more likely to shoot an innocent bystander,” Public School Defenders and parent Katie Hathaway said.

Katie Hathaway is one of several people who took to the stand to share her opposition of the Guardian Program.

“I appreciate our board’s commitment to school safety, however, that should not include arming teachers,” Hathaway said. “Teachers need to be armed with books resources, better pay, not guns.”

The current school board policy prevents the arming of teachers or any other employee except for law enforcement and school safety assistants.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

The guardian program has only been discussed in a workshop, but no agenda item has been created regarding the topic.

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.

mobile apps

Everything you love about wokv.com and more! Tap on any of the buttons below to download our app.

amazon alexa

Enable our Skill today to listen live at home on your Alexa Devices!