Despite urging from sheriff, Pinellas school board will not arm teachers

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Tuesday was emotional for a group of Pinellas County teachers and administrators who listened to a second-by-second account of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year. 

Bob Gualtieri, sheriff and chair of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, gave the presentation and encouraged the school board to change its stance on arming teachers in Pinellas County.

“It is going to happen again. The question is when and where, and do we have the right things to stop it?” Gualtieri asked.

He highlighted the poor response and systematic failures in paying attention to red flags in raised by the alleged gunman prior to the shooting.

The commission's report recommends having qualified teachers or staff armed so they may neutralize a threat. Pinellas County School Board Chair Rene Flowers says they wanted to hear the sheriff’s report but already have made their decision not to allow certain teachers and staff to be armed.

“That is very hard to ask of someone who goes to school every day to educate students,” Flowers told FOX 13.

Gov. DeSantis just signed a law that expands the state’s current guardian program, allowing staff members, and now teachers, to carry a concealed weapon in school. However, each school district has the option to opt out.

Flowers says, since Parkland, they’ve beefed up school security by hiring more than 40 resource officers.

“We’re taking every single call text -- what have you seriously,” she said.

Pinellas schools have also made it easier for students to report the warning signs.

The Pinellas School Board plans to have the sheriff back during executive session to answer questions but Flowers says they have no plans for a vote which would arm teachers or staff.