A School Resource Officer in an Orange County charter school was recently terminated after he made the egregious decision to arrest two 6-year-old children. This incident highlighted the current lack of authority given to local school districts for decisions on school safety that affect thousands of students in charter schools throughout the state.
In response, Senator Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) has filed legislation to provide local school districts oversight over the hiring and monitoring of all school resource officers within their county. Currently, charter schools independently hire and monitor the mandated school resource officers without input or oversight from their local school board.
This legislation seeks to address the concerns of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission and Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie, who last month discussed closing charter schools that still did not have a licensed security officer on campus. In speaking on charter schools refusing to comply with state law, Superintendent Runcie stated, “There’s actually very little a school board can do to impact the compliance of charter schools with statutes and best practices.”
Announcing her intention to file this legislation, Senator Janet Cruz offers the following statement:
“What happened to these young children was an outrage. The safety and long-term well-being of our children demands that we have the utmost confidence in those tasked with providing them protection on a daily basis.
“Our parents and students deserve to know that not only are School Resource Officers working to prevent school violence, but they are also not perpetuating the school-to-prison pipeline that hampers the untapped potential of thousands of our children. It’s time to end the disparity of accountability when it comes to school safety hiring and monitoring between our traditional public schools and these independent charter operators.”