Local students welcome school safety bill

Some high school students in Leon County welcome the changes to school safety following the approval of The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. 

The Florida Senate passed Senate Bill 7026, following the mass shooting on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The legislation provided $400 million to increase school safety, improve mental health resources and provide firearm training for some teachers and staff in Florida’s public schools.

Naomi Riggins, a senior at Florida State University School, believes the bill is timely. “How many more shootings will there be if we don’t do this now?” said Riggins.  “Mass shootings have become common. We could definitely use more resource officers and school security.”

According to the bill, Florida schools were provided $97.5 million to hire additional school safety officers and $69 million for school-based mental health care.

Queze Brutton, a senior at Leon High School, said he couldn’t agree more. “I am glad he (Gov. Rick Scott) funded that. More security will help,” said Brutton.  “You can find out if someone has a gun on campus and feel more prepared and secure.”

Leon High School junior Dwan Kornegay wants students’ focus to be on school rather than safety. “More funding for school safety is a great idea. If you are scared going to school, it is very likely that you won’t learn anything,” said Kornegay.

Gov. Scott recently stated in a letter to school superintendents that his goal is for each student in Florida to have access to a mental health professional at school by the 2018-2019 school year.

“Kids face a lot of problems that people do not know about or understand, so mental health assistance is good. I’m glad students will have better access to someone to keep up with them and really see how they are doing,” said Riggins.

Superintendent for Leon County Schools, Rocky Hanna, has been very vocal about his support for school safety and mental health resources but draws the line with part of the bill allowing trained school workers to carry handguns. 

The Leon County School Board unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday to only allow sworn law enforcement officers to carry guns on school campuses.

“We ask teachers to do enough,” Hanna told WTXL at the school board meeting. “I think tonight kind of reaffirms what I've been saying and have been very outspoken about for a while – only certified law-enforcement officers will be allowed to carry weapons on our campus.”