With prodding from sheriff, Sarasota settles school safety plan

- Frustration and disappointment: When it comes to student safety, Sarasota Sheriff Tom Knight said the school district has been dragging its feet. 

"I haven't seen a whole lot of action out of the school district here. They're going to have to make some quick decisions," said Sheriff Knight.   "I'm not waiting around for them anymore. I'm going to do something.”

Knight said the new state law requires an armed officer at every public school took effect as soon as the governor signed it.  The problem is, some Sarasota schools don't have officers. 

The sheriff said he's been trying to get the district to comply with the law.  A breakthrough came late this afternoon after the Sheriff threatened to take matters into his own hands. 

"He was kind of prodding us on saying let’s go, let’s go. I think we were being a little more deliberate than he was comfortable with. I think he wanted a simple decision," said Superintendent Todd Bowden. 

Superintendent Bowden said the school board agreed to have off-duty police officers at every school in the district when students come back from spring break on April 2. 

For next year, school resource deputies, hired and trained by the sheriff’s office, will be in every public school. 

"What he wanted from us was just say yes and that's what we were able to do today," said continued Bowden. 

Sarasota Schools said it will beef up its internal security department, which is responsible for overall campus security.  The district is also exploring the possibility of a Guardian program, which would allow certain school district employees to be armed. They would serve as a backup to the school resource officer in an active shooter incident. 

Superintendent Bowden said the next step is putting the finishing touches on the plan with Sheriff Knight. 

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