Pinellas school board members against arming teachers

- The Pinellas County School Board is sending a strong message to lawmakers at the state and federal level.

They are against arming teachers and other staff in their school system.

Chair Rene Flowers says the school board voted Tuesday evening 6-1 to send a letter to Tallahassee encouraging leaders to stand against proposed laws which train and pay volunteer staff to carry a weapon.

“The librarian should be trying to make sure the students are safe, not running out of the library looking for the gunman,” Flowers said.

Flowers says the board is in support of tightening gun laws and improving school safety but says arming school staff is not the answer to preventing and stopping mass shootings, like the one in parkland where 17 people died.

“We’ve had at least three stories in the news lately -- one teacher left their weapon in a bathroom and a student found it, and other teacher’s weapon discharged,” Flowers said.

School leaders in Hillsborough County have also said they are against arming school staff.  

In Polk County the superintendent has said she’s against it, however, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is a strong supporter.

"It means you can select, evaluate, drug test and psychologically evaluate and train 32 guardians for the cost of one school resource officer,” Judd said.

In Pinellas County, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has said he is not a supporter of arming school teachers or staff.  Flowers said under the proposed law the school board, superintendent and sheriff all have to agree for staff to be trained and armed.

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