School board to vote on Tuesday

Click Orlando | By Molly Reed | June 19, 2023

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – The Flagler County school board will vote Tuesday on whether it should arm school staff members. The district said the guardian program would supplement school resource officers if an active shooter came to campus.

The board has been debating for the last several months if they would hire extra personnel who serve as obvious armed guardians at the school or if they arm teachers and staff already here. They chose that second option and are going to vote if it should be put in place Tuesday.

“We did identify 112 employees from our district who were interested in moving into the guardian program,” said the district’s safety specialist Tommy Wooleyhan.

Wooleyhan said if the program is approved, 15 guardians would be chosen to work in all nine schools after extensive testing and would then go through training from the sheriff’s office.

“Background checks, psychological exams, drug screenings, training,” he said.

The district would get about $100,00 from the state for it as part of a program enacted in 2018 after the Parkland school shooting.

Wooleyhan said the guardians would serve as a supplement to the 14 resource deputies already working in the district if there was an active shooter and only the school principals, resource deputies, superintendent and district safety leaders would know who the guardians are.

“We have deputies on every campus, two at the high schools which are definitely needed, but those are big campuses,” said Sheriff Rick Staly.

Staly said they have not had an active shooter on campus before in Flagler but if one were to come, the help from guardians could be crucial before more deputies could get on campus.

He said if approved, the next step is working with the district on logistics and procedures.

“The only concern that I would have, and we will work through this logistically, is how do my responding deputies identify who is the guardian and who is not and how secure can we keep that information,” he said.

The district says if approved, they would start training the staff in June of 2024.