Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran today commended Baker, Escambia, Franklin, Levy and Taylor counties for taking advantage of the opportunity to access the remaining Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program funding.
In February, at the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis’ Executive Order 19-45, Commissioner Corcoran sent a letter to Florida sheriffs reopening the application window. Since then these five counties created Guardian programs and another 13 expressed interest in creating programs.
Commissioner Corcoran said, “The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission report found that having Guardians in schools is the best way to ensure highly trained personnel are in place to respond immediately during a school shooting. There is nothing more important than the safety of Florida’s students and educators, and I am proud of the sheriffs and school districts who recognized this tremendous opportunity. I hope more counties follow their lead, especially now that the Florida Legislature has expanded the Guardian program.”
In the wake of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Florida Legislature passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which outlined significant reforms to keep schools safe and allocated funding to enable education leaders and emergency responders to better serve our state’s students. The law provides that Guardians receive training for school-related emergencies that is greater than the comparable training for law enforcement officers.
During the 2019 Legislative Session, the Florida Legislature invested $180 million for school resource officers and enhanced school safety measures, $50 million for school hardening grants and continued the investment in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program. The Legislature also implemented dozens of school safety recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, including strengthening compliance and expanding schools and districts access to the Guardian Program and ensuring the security of every school.
There are now a total of 30 counties participating in the Guardian Program: Alachua, Baker, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Clay, Duval, Escambia, Franklin, Gilchrist, Hendry, Hillsborough, Holmes, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Nassau, Okeechobee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Suwanee, Taylor and Volusia.
For more information about the Office of Safe Schools, please visit fldoe.org/safe-schools.