Program allows some school employees to become qualified to carry guns on campuses
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program would allow some school employees to become qualified and trained to carry guns on school campuses as part of an effort to safeguard schools. The program is part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act.
It is named after Aaron Feis, a coach who died when shielding students during the Feb. 14 school shooting.
Q: Are school districts required to participate in the guardian program?
A: School boards would decide whether or not their respective district participates in the guardian program if it’s an available option in their county.
The safety act requires each district school board and school district superintendent to cooperate with law enforcement agencies to assign one or more safe-school officers at each school facility by the start of the 2018-19 school year. The safe-school officer requirement can be satisfied by appointing any combination of a school resource officer, a school safety officer or a school guardian.
Q: Does this mean arming teachers?
A: By law, classroom teachers who exclusively perform classroom duties are not eligible. The exceptions are JROTC teachers, current members of armed services, and former law enforcement officers.
Administrators, support staff and professionals who do not work exclusively in classrooms are eligible to become guardians.
Q: How will guardians be selected?
A: The vetting process for volunteers would include an interview, background check, drug screening, psychological evaluation and in-depth discussion by the applicant with the school principal.
Q: What would training for guardians involve?
A: A: Participation would require 176 hours of training, which could last about five weeks over the 2018 summer break. But law, the training must include:
- 80 hours of firearms instruction
- 16 hours of instruction on precision pistol instruction
- 8 hours of instruction and experience in shooting simulators
- 8 hours of instruction in active-shooter or assailant scenarios
- 8 hours of instruction in defensive tactics
- 12 hours of instruction on legal issues
- 12 hours of certified, nationally recognized diversity training.
Q: Would guardians have to provide their own firearms?
The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office would provide the weapon under Sheriff Wayne Ivey’s proposal.
Q: Would guardians carry their guns or keep them somewhere on campus?
The guardians would carry concealed sidearms with them on campus and to and from school.
Q: What powers will guardians have?
A: Guardians would have no authority except to respond with deadly force to “prevent or abate an active assailant incident on school premises,” Florida law says. They could render first aid and move students to safety. But they would have no arrest powers.
Q: How much would guardians be paid?
A: Participants would receive a one-time $500 stipend, under a tentative version of the proposal. It is meant to be a volunteer position.
Q: How much ongoing training would guardians receive?
A: Guardians would be expected to attend quarterly training, submit to random drug tests, and undergo 16 hours of additional training for annual recertification.
Q: Is the proposed guardian program the only plan for school safety?
A: The guardian program would be one of four layers of school protection implemented at Brevard Public Schools. The other three layers are:
- education, awareness and the STAR intervention program (Success Through Awareness and Restoration)
- hardening of facilities
- placement of school resource officers
Click here, to watch a video by Sheriff Wayne Ivey, who explains how the proposed guardian program would fit into the four-pronged strategy for keeping Brevard students and staff safe. Click here, for additional details about the safety act and The Florida Department of Education’s Office of Safe Schools.
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