Senate Bill 7030 had the chance to be a momentous piece of legislation that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. However, the inclusion of a provision that would allow for the arming of teachers caused the bill to be one of the most controversial of the legislative session.
Below we’ll review the lesser known parts of the bill that had almost unanimous support as well as address concerns regarding the arming of teachers.
Furthermore, it is important to note that many of the below provisions are either not included in or are substantially different in the House version of the bill. So, even though this bill has now passed the Senate, all of the below is still subject to change.
- Of course, the most controversial aspect of the program is it is now open to classroom teachers.
- County sheriffs now must provide training if the school board approves the guardian program. Last year’s bill required both the school board and the sheriff to approve the training.
- A school guardian will receive a one-time $500 stipend.
- A guardian would have to take 144 hours of training (compared to the 300 for a reading endorsement). Training would be in the following categories:
- 80 hours of firearms instruction based on the law enforcement academy training model
- 12 hours of diversity training
- 16 hours of instruction in precision pistol
- 8 hours of shooting instruction using ‘state-of-the-art simulator exercises”
- 8 hours of instruction in active shooter scenarios
- 8 hours of instruction in defensive tactics
- 12 hours of instruction in legal issues
- Additionally, a guardian must pass a psychological exam, pass a drug test and be subject to subsequent random drug tests, and complete annual weapon inspection and firearm training
- A guardian must complete the training to ‘the satisfaction of the sheriff” and must be approved by their superintendent.
- It is s 3rd degree felony to act as a guardian without the having the approval of the sheriff and superintendent
- The current FortifyFL program was strengthened by requiring school boards to promote the app “on the school district website, in newsletters, on school campuses, and in school publications, (and) by installing it on all mobile devices issues to students, and by bookmarking the website on all computer devices issued to students.”
- SB 7030 creates a “School Hardening and Harm Mitigation Workgroup” which will be tasked with creating a “prioritized list for the implementation of school campus hardening and harm mitigation strategies.”
Behavioral Threat Assessment:
- SB 7030 requires that by August 2019 there is a “standardized, statewide behavioral threat assessment instrument for use by all public schools.” This assessment would “address early identification, evaluation, early intervention, and student support.”
- By August 2020, the Department of Education will “evaluate each school district’s threat assessment procedures for compliance.”
- A statewide threat assessment database will be created and will require information to be provided to authorized personnel in each school district so that if a student is determined to be a threat in one school or district, each school will have access to that information should the student transfer schools.
- If a student with an identified as a threat moves schools the transferring school must verify “that any intervention services provided to the students remain in place until the threat assessment team of the receiving school independently determines the need for intervention services.”
Active Shooter Drills/Response Plans
- Adds language into existing law to clarify that active shooter drills must be “in accordance with developmentally appropriate and age-appropriate procedures.”
- Each school district must adopt an active assailant response plan and certify that all school personnel receive annual training on the plan.
School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting (SESIR)
- Each school board is required to adopt polices to “ensure accurate and timely reporting of incidents related to school safety and discipline.” Failure to comply with this could lead to suspension or removal of the superintendent.
- School districts must “train educators and other school staff in detecting and responding to mental health issues and connect children, youth, and families who may experience behavioral health issues with appropriate services.”
- In order to be eligible for the mental health allocation of safe schools money, the district must have a plan to deliver mental health care “assessment, diagnosis, intervention, treatment, and recovery services to students with one more mental health or co-occurring substance abuse diagnoses.”
- The mental health allocation can be used for “employment of school-based mental health providers” and to “reduce the ratio of students to staff in order the better align with nationally recommended ratio models” of certified school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, and other mental health professionals.”
- The plan must also “identify strategies increase the amount of time that school-based student services personnel spend providing direct services to students…”
- When a student is referred to school-based mental health services, those services must be initiated “within 15 days after identification and assessment. For students who are referred to community-based mental health services, those services must be initiated “within 30 days after the school or district makes the referral.”