The ACLU of Florida opposes Senate Bill 7030: School Safety and Security.

Threat Assessments

  • Direct the DOE Office of Safe Schools to develop a standardized, statewide behavioral threat assessment instrument for use by all public schools by August 1, 2019.
  • Direct the DOE Office of Safe Schools to establish a Statewide Threat Assessment Database Workgroup to make recommendations on developing such a statewide database by December 31, 2019, including what data should be entered, who should have access to enter and view such records, data security, information sharing, cost and implementation plan.

Issues:

  • Threat Assessments were designed to provide a measured approach to communicated threats, quickly addressing transient, non-serious threats with minimal harm to students while allowing deeper assessments of the appropriate response to more serious threats. However, the MSD Commission's recommendations call for an expansive, punitive approach to threat assessments that could worsen school climates.

  • Threat Assessments should be carefully managed and confidential. They should be used to assess threats for credibility and actionability - not to assess and label students.

  • If students do not trust that they and their friends will be treated fairly, they will be less likely to report threats and their own mental health needs.

School Hardening

  • Establish a School Hardening & Harm Mitigation Workgroup to propose recommendations by August 1, 2019

  • Allow funds allocated for other purposes to be used to improve school safety, including funds allocated for exceptional education services, supplemental academic instruction, classroom technology, and for class-size reduction. This is in addition to the current ability to siphon funds for student transportation, reading instruction and instructional materials.

Issues:

  • School hardening measures lead to decreased student engagement and increased mistrust, anxiety and misbehavior.

  • Schools need financial support. They need funding for infrastructure, educational materials and teachers. They need school social workers, counselors, nurses and school psychologists with manageable caseloads who are not pulled into nonprofessional tasks like test proctoring.

  • Diverting funds from traditional and necessary school functions to increase student surveillance is counterproductive at best.

Guns at School

Currently, schools may only use guardians (armed staff) if the local school board and sheriff agree. Some school boards would like to arm staff, but their local sheriff disagrees. Teachers may only be armed if they serve no other function in the school (i.e. coaching). SB 7030 would:

  • Require local sheriffs to establish guardian programs if local school board votes to implement a program.

  • Allow contract employees and teachers to become armed guardians.

Issues:

  • Potential disparate impact - Studies show that Black youth are seen as older and more dangerous than they are.

  • The Court has held that Stand Your Ground applies to law enforcement. There is a risk it will be used to shelter armed staff and school police from accountability in the event of a shooting of students and/or school staff.

  • Diverts funding from traditional school endeavors and social-emotional learning that could effectively prevent school violence.

  • School hardening measures erode school climate, reducing student participation and increasing anxiety, mistrust and misbehavior.

Sponsors

General

Session

2019

Bill number

Position

Oppose

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