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Manatee County School Board Says No To Arming Teachers

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Another local school board has spoken out about teachers carrying firearms, a decision that comes as Florida lawmakers are close to passing a bill that would expand the state’s school guardian program.

In a 3-2 vote Tuesday, the Manatee County School Boardpassed a resolution stating the school district opposes arming teachers. 

The proposed legislation would build upon the state’s school guardian program which was created after the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Teachers wanting to carry a gun would first have to undergo a psychological evaluation and training.

The legislation however currently allows local school boards to decide if they will participate.

Manatee County School Board Chairman Dave Miner, along with board members Charlie Kennedy and James Golden voted for the resolution saying no to arming teachers. Vice-chair Gina Messenger and board member Scott Hopes both said while they don't want teachers to be armed, they are worried that if more school districts oppose the expansion, lawmakers could introduce measures that would restrict local control.

In February, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, said he would ask the panel to recommend state law be changed so teachers who undergo background checks and training would be allowed to have guns on campus as a last line of defense.

The statewide teachers union is against expanding the school guardian program and the Manatee Education Association supports that position.

Some school districts in Florida including Sarasota and Hillsborough, have already passed similar resolutions opposing the arming of teachers.  

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Cathy Carter is the education reporter for WUSF 89.7 and StateImpact Florida.