The School District of Lee County is discussing the possibility of training and arming school employees in cases of school shooting threats on its campuses. School board members are set to talk about the Guardian Program on Monday.
The Guardian Program became a new safety precaution for schools after the Parkland shooting in 2018.
Just this school year, there has been a school shooting threat at Harns Marsh Middle School and a gun found in a backpack at East Lee County High School.
According to Lee County School Board Member Gwynetta Gittens, now more than ever, student safety is a priority. “I think we need to tighten up that security. The whole process of it,” said Gittens.
On Monday, the Lee County School Board will discuss the possibility of using the Guardian Program in its schools. The program’s intention is to add a layer of security to schools.
“We need to look at that from not just financial, but if we’re using guardians that are already there, people that are already getting paid? Is this going to take away from their current job?” Gittens said.
School staff, not including teachers, can volunteer to become guardians or personnel can be hired for the task. After completing screenings and 144 hours of training, the guardians are equipped to respond to school shootings.
Parents believe there can never be too much security in their children’s schools. Jeff Maturo lives in Bonita Springs. “I believe they’ll find people who are passionate for these positions, that want to work with kids,” said Maturo.
Kely Grabowski also lives in Bonita Springs. “If they were to ask me too I would definitely be on board to do whatever kind of training,” Grabowski said.
Using these guardians is supposed to fulfill the role of extra security without providing additional costs that the schools will have to pay. The school board is referring to the program as a “force multiplier.”
“We’ve got things in place and how can we improve it and make it better,” said Gittens.
SDLC intends for the program to assist the already present school resource officers. 45 school districts across Florida already use the Guardian Program, including Hendry County Schools.