Home / Lee County school board to vote on adopting the Guardian Program

Lee County school board to vote on adopting the Guardian Program

Reporter: Samantha Johns Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

The Lee County school board is considering arming certain staff members in case of an emergency.

It would be made possible through the state’s Guardian Program, which was introduced after the devastating Parkland mass shooting.

There are a couple of reasons why the state is considering this. The spike in threats to Lee County schools concerns parents and the district. And this is a new and different school board. Members feel it’s worth discussing having more armed staff members on school grounds.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in 2018 prompted Florida lawmakers to pass laws to make schools safer. For example, all Florida’s public schools must have a ‘safe school officer,’ usually a police officer or sheriff’s deputy assigned by a police department or sheriff’s office. And districts can go one step further by adopting the Guardian Program, allowing trained staff members to carry guns on campus.

“46 counties out of 67 already have the Guardian program,” Lee County school board member Armor Persons said.

Lee County might be the 47 to adopt the program.

Persons and other school board members will vote on Tuesday on whether to move forward. The agenda item got the attention of Samantha Dupree, a mother to a student.

“It is a very hard topic to even talk about, especially because of the way things are. But with everything that’s happening these days, I do think something does have to be implemented,” Dupree said.

Dupree has three children in the district and said she’s uncomfortable carrying a gun.

“But with the way the world is, I do think this is eventually going to be the only option we have,” Dupree said.

For five years, Lee County had the chance to implement the Guardian Program, so why do it now? According to Persons, it starts with all the threats against schools.

“At the beginning, I mean, most people thought teachers are going to be running around with no training and guns and everything else and they were against it,” Persons said.

If the school board passes the resolution, Persons said any Lee County schools Guardian Program would demand each volunteer go through a series of background checks and extensive training by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Persons told WINK News he supports the Guardian Program, but not everybody feels the same way.