Media Contact

CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, 363-2737

May 1, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, FL - The Florida House and Senate today voted to pass Senate Bill 7030, which seeks to arm school teachers and expand the role of police in schools in spite of evidence that guns in schools erode the relationships vital to preventing violence and disparately impact Black and brown youth, students with disabilities and LGBTQ and gender nonconforming youth.

While the bill was amended to take steps toward addressing students’ mental health needs and combat the severe shortage of school-based mental health providers, it continues to allow districts to spend education and intervention dollars on surveillance technologies, guns and metal detectors. It also expands the state’s zero-tolerance policies- an approach to school safety that has  proven to be ineffective, costly, and disproportionately impact marginalized youth.

Advocates including the ACLU of Florida have called on state elected officials to reject such policies that increase the school-to-prison pipeline.

Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida responded to today’s vote saying:

“The gravest provision in this bill rests on its requirement to place more guns on school campuses. Evidence shows that when more police and resource officers are in schools, we can expect that guns around youth will lead to guns being used on youth. We know from research on police-involved shootings and implicit bias in schools that Black students will be disparately impacted.

“State lawmakers overlooked these concerns and vouched for policing students rather than improving the quality of student’s education and development with healthy school environments.”

Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel of the ACLU of Florida added:  

“While the provision requiring school districts to develop a plan to spend state school mental health funds is promising, the bulk  of the bill is sorely misguided. It expands on Florida’s harsh zero-tolerance law discipline policies, which will result in more students being pushed out of schools and into the unforgiving criminal justice system.

“The bill also adds a threat assessment database to the centralized student database. As it stands, there are no legal restrictions on the length of time student data can be maintained in this database or who will have access to it, leaving students personal and confidential information vulnerable. These efforts, in addition to arming teachers and requiring no real training for police officers to serve as school resource officers, will harm more students than it helps, and are counterproductive to creating safe learning environments for all students.”