Hendry County will be among the first to train and arm staff members in their schools.
The Hendry County School Board voted on April 24th to participate in the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.
The program is a part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School Public Safety Act.
A select number of staff members who volunteer will be armed and trained for protection in an active shooter situation. They will be placed throughout the 10 schools in the district.
So what does this mean?
Your child’s librarian could be carrying a gun or their coaches.
Oh, that cafeteria lady could have a gun as well. But you won’t know because they will be anonymous for safety reasons.
Sheriff Steve Whidden said after the parkland shooting he knew they had to do something. The county is a one of the first in the state to move forward with this program.
“Seconds count not minutes in a school shooting seconds count,” Whidden said.
Each volunteer will be required to take a training course of 144 hours.
“The state law requires a psychological test and a drug screening that’s it,” Whidden said.
“We’re actually adding a polygraph to that as well as a full law enforcement background. So we’re going above and beyond what the state law is requiring to allow these staff members to carry inside of these schools.”
One important thing about this is teachers will to be able to participate in the program.
Only if they are a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps teacher, a current service member or a police officer will be allowed to participate.
“Some agree some don’t agree but the main thought process is in the case of an active shooter you don’t want especially in the lower grade level you don’t want that teacher having to leave that class room,” Whidden said.
Now that the vote is in they are hoping to have the program up and ready by the start of the upcoming school year.
Whidden says he’s hoping training the volunteers will begin in June.
He also said most people in the county is for the program and he knows because of all the training and requirements it will be a safe one for the students.
“Most of the staff members were teachers at one time they get into the job because they love these children,”
“I’m not going to say all, but I can guarantee that most of them would give their life just like coach Aaron Feis at Parkland.”