Palm Beach County school district settles lawsuit in charter cop training debacle for $75K
The Palm Beach Post | By Sonja Isger | February 3, 2022
A security company fired by the Palm Beach County school district in 2019 for failing to properly train dozens of would-be charter school cops will nonetheless collect $75,000 of the outstanding bill under a settlement approved Wednesday.
The payment to Invictus Security in Boynton Beach ends a court battle launched as Florida schools scrambled to meet new campus security laws in the wake of the 2018 Parkland shooting.
The district had aimed to create a pool of affordable school security guards for its charter schools by paying Invictus to train them at $3,000 per person.
But before those guards could step foot on a campus, their training came under fire.
District owed Invictus $97,000 when contract ended
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office reviewed Invictus’ program and found it lacking. The lead instructor wasn’t properly certified, its record keeping was shoddy and students who failed the firearms qualifications were marked as passing, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw reported.
The district owed Invictus more than $97,000 when it pulled the plug on the contract.
The company’s president, Patrick Miller, laid the blame on district leaders, saying at a public meeting at the time that they signed off on a contract not understanding what state law demanded or permitted.
“The faults of the school board should not fall on Invictus,” said Miller, who said his company has been unfairly maligned and “vilified in the public eye.”
Then the company sued. The district filed counterclaims over alleged shortcomings in Invictus’ work. All claims are dropped as part of the settlement approved by the school board Wednesday.
The driver behind the training was the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School public safety law, requirements of which were to kick in for the 2019-2020 school year.
The law demanded all schools, including charters, have fulltime armed security daily. But in the months after the law passed it wasn’t immediately clear who was in charge of making those hires or who had to pay for them — the district or the charters?
Districts across the state watched as a tug of war played out in the courts with Palm Beach County schools a named defendant in a suit filed by the Renaissance charter chain.