New state law to require locked doors at Florida schools

Reporter: Annalise Iraola Writer: Carolina Guzman

Staying proactive to keep your children safe as the days of unlocked doors and windows at Florida schools are ending.

A new state law requires locked doors and entrances at all schools when students are inside.

It does not change the number of security officers in each building. Lee County schools’ partnership with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office is ahead of the curve in school safety and security.

Inside and outside doors are already closed and locked, and you need ID to get inside, but for other schools in Florida, it establishes new perimeter and door safety requirements. 

“House Bill 14-73 requires all schools, when in session, to lock their doors now; we do that in Lee County already,” said Sheriff Carmine Marceno, Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Marceno said keeping kids safe has always been the focus.

“We protect our children in schools with school resource officers. Every school is staffed by one, if not two, if it’s a high school with 1,500 students or more,” said Marceno.

House Bill 14-73 requires doors to be locked and closed when students are on campus, and for Lee County schools, this is nothing new. 

“Probably a couple of years ago, we have always made sure our exterior doors are closed and secured. Our doors are always closed as well, too. So it doesn’t do doesn’t change much for us,” said Dave Newlan, Executive Director of Safety and Security at the Lee County School District.

“We’ve always done it that way. All school doors have been locked from the outside and even inside. And that’s always just been kind of a tactical thing in case there’s an intruder or something in the building to prevent any future harm for different people,” said Mercedes Simonds, Public Affairs Officer at the Cape Coral Police Department.

In addition, classrooms must be locked or actively staffed during class time, and classrooms need to have the safest part of the room marked.

It requires each school district to have a discipline policy for school staff who knowingly violate school safety requirements.

In Lee County, all LCSO deputies and school resource officers have access fobs that allow them to gain entry to every school in an emergency.

“So what we already do is now just being pushed into law, and again, anything that we can do to protect our children. That’s the number one top priority,” said Marceno.

House Bill 14-73 takes effect on July 1. By August 1, school districts must comply with all new perimeter and door safety requirements.

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