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School Safety Commission to Schools: Follow the Law

December 12th, 2018 by Jake Stofan

The state Legislature created the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission as part of school safety legislation following the Parkland Shooting.

The commission made up of law enforcement, educators and state agency heads is tasked with investigating what went wrong and recommending policy changes.

“Change is hard, in many cases it’s controversial and in some cases it’s resisted,” said Commission Chair and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “But it’s necessary if we’re going to do better and ensure that every kid who goes to school in the morning comes home at night.”

In a more than 400 page draft report the commission recommends mandatory code red plans be in place in schools and the locking and staffing of entrances.

However, Gualtieri says compliance with existing law has been a struggle.

“There is a culture problem in the Florida schools and the culture problem is is that they have viewed security as a thorn in their side,” said Gualtieri.

Members of the group, Stand With Parkland attended Wednesday’s meeting.

It’s made up of family members of victims like Tom Hoyer, who’s son Luke was killed in the shooting.

He too is frustrated with the reluctance of some schools to comply with the law.

“Certainly disappoints, hurts that people don’t seem to take it seriously enough,” said Hoyer.

The commission says it wants lawmakers to enact stiff penalties for schools that ignore the law.

Tony Montalto, who lost his daughter Gina in the Parkland Shooting, says he hopes the report will motivate schools to begin taking school safety more seriously.

“To readjust and examine the plans they have in place and make sure they fit today’s environment,” said Montalto.

Sheriff Gualtieri says one way of forcing compliance would be for the Legislature to give the Department of Education more oversight authority, to ensure schools are held accountable.

The commission must submit its final report by January first.

To learn more about Stand With Parkland, you can visit their website by following this link.

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