Hendry County remains committed to Guardian program in schools

Reporter: Kellie Miller Writer: Kellie Miller
Published: Updated:

The Hendry County School district remains committed to its Guardian Program. First launched in 2018, the program involves administrators and staff who step up as armed protectors and get special training to react to firearm threats in schools. 

Through the years, the district has made some changes, but the mission’s always been the same.

”We’re teaching our citizens how to survive incidents instead of just becoming a victim of the incident,” said Curtis Clay, Assistant Director of School Safety and Security for Hendry County School District.

WINK Investigates reporter Kellie Miller interviewed Mr. Clay about the Guardian program that the district has successfully executed for many years in partnership with the Henry County Sheriff’s Office.

Clay explained that initially the Guardian program was comparable to the training given to special response teams. Now, it’s tailored to the specific threats guardians may face on school campuses. For example, they focus more on single-officer responses to armed intruders. 

“So we build our program in alignment with what the state puts out,” Clay said, “and we are pretty happy with our program. We’ve continued to develop it and make it better year after year.”

According to Hendry County Schools superintendent Mike Swindle, the Hendry County Sheriff’s office ensures the training and updates are in compliance with state laws as well as the latest research involving gun violence on school campuses. Additionally, the guardians undergo regular firearms training. 

“We stress target acquisition accuracy, knowing when to act … we don’t want guns coming out for any reason,” Clay said. “Our guardians are only to act if it is a life-threatening active assailant situation.”

Ultimately, the goal is for the guardians to work alongside school resource officers to enhance security presence.

“Our guardians are simply force multipliers,” Clay said. “Our hope would be that if, God forbid we had an assailant come on our campus, that we would either have law enforcement or a guardian in close proximity to stop the threat as quickly as possible to save as many lives as possible.”

In the past, administrators and faculty staff members volunteered to be guardians in addition to their regular duties. However, this year, Hendry County Schools is also introducing a dedicated guardian position, whose primary responsibility will be to prevent and respond to any potential threats.

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