Brevard school board gives OK to trained staff carrying guns after promising no vote this week

Florida Today | By Finch Walker | June 11, 2024

Certain staff members can now go through training that, once completed, will allow them to carry firearms in Brevard schools

Moments before the school board voted to approve it at a Tuesday meeting, a hotly contested move that will allow arming of Brevard Public Schools staff was added to the board’s agenda.

The memorandum of understanding, or MOU, with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office had been discussed since October, and was available on the board’s agenda prior to the weekend. However, on Monday, it was pulled from the agenda, with Assistant Superintendent of Human Resource Services Ryan Dufrain telling FLORIDA TODAY that it was being amended by BSCO.

He later said that it would not receive a vote until a future meeting.

“The agenda is being updated and will no longer include the original MOU for STOMP (Sheriff Trained Onsite Marshal Program), as the information was not up to date,” Dufrain said in an email Monday. “It will be moved to a future board meeting for consideration. The district is working to ensure we provide our community with enough time to view any slated agenda items.”

But partway through Tuesday’s meeting, mere moments before the board voted on the updated MOU, the document was added back to the agenda. The board voted to approve it 4-1, with Jennifer Jenkins dissenting.

What the MOU does

The memorandum of understanding expands the guardian program to allow certain staff members at BPS to carry firearms once they have completed training through the sheriff’s office. Those eligible to participate in the program will include “employees who are not assigned to a classroom,” according to the MOU, and whether or not they can participate is “dependent on the terms outlined in the applicable bargaining contract.”

The guardian program was established in 2018 through the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act following the Parkland shooting, which took the lives of 17 students and staff and left 17 others wounded. As of 2019, the program was expanded to include Class D and G licensed security guards, as well as certain district and charter school employees. Private schools could participate as of last year.

BPS already participated in the program with security specialists, or civilians with a background in security, military or law enforcement. These individuals underwent the guardian training with BCSO and serve as full-time security for the district.

Megan Wright and Katye Campbell pictured at a February school board meeting.

Megan Wright and Katie Campbell pictured at a February school board meeting. Malcolm Denemark/Florida Today

A lack of transparency

Since the idea of expanding the program was first broached by Board Chair Megan Wright in October, community members have generally shown up to almost unanimously protest the idea any time the topic has been slated to be discussed at meetings.

At Tuesday’s meeting, while the MOU was still not on the agenda, only one of the six speakers — Amber Yantz, a mom and school board candidate running for the District 3 seat — commented on the topic, bringing up concerns about whether or not board members had done enough research to determine if arming staff was a safe move.

Share With:
Rate This Article