Flagler School Board votes 3-2 against proposed Guardian Program to arm school staff

The Daytona Beach News-Journal | By Brenno Carillo | June 20, 2023

The Flagler School Board Tuesday night voted against the proposed Guardian Program, which would have allowed the district to arm teachers and staff.

In a 3-2 vote, board Chair Cheryl Massaro, Colleen Conklin and Sally Hunt opposed the proposal, while Will Furry and Christy Chong approved it.

The program was established as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, enacted in 2018 by the Florida Legislature after a shooting at the Parkland high school killed 17 people in February of that same year.

It is also named after one of the victims, Aaron Feis (Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program), who was a coach at the high school.

The program would have required a $100,000 state grant application from the sheriff’s office. The funding would be used for “background checks,” “extensive training, a psychological evaluation, and drug testing,” according to the proposal.

The school employees (or guardians) would not have replaced current school resource deputies who already serve the district.

Board Chair Cheryl Massaro said she is not against the program but does not think it the district is ready for it yet.

“Yes, it would be wonderful to have force multiplier,” Massaro said. “Is Flagler County ready to take that step? I don’t think so. Not this year.”

She said the idea of adding additional school resource deputies, despite its added cost, could be an alternative.

Board member Will Furry argued that the program would not be implemented right away and would take at least a year before all preparation (background checks, training, etc.) took place.

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