As teachers returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for the first time since the massacre, Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie called for more resources and support for educators — but drew the line at arming them.
Runcie spoke in front of the campus Friday morning moments after Gov. Rick Scott announced a plan to raise the age for buying rifles, step up rules around mentally ill people owning guns and put more armed law enforcement officers on campus.
“Don’t put guns in the hands of teachers,” Runcie said. “That, I don’t think is the right direction.”
The president of the Broward County Teachers Union, Anna Fusco, agreed. She said she’s talked to many of the county’s 15,000 teachers and has yet to hear from one who wants to carry a gun on campus.
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“That’s not our job,” she said, speaking to reporters after Runcie concluded his remarks. “We are not murderers.”
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel announced plans earlier in the week to arm school resource officers with rifles, which Runcie said he fully supports as a temporary step up of security measures, although he did ask Israel to “step it back” in the elementary schools.
“It’s interim,” he said. “It’s a recognition we don’t want to see any copycat incidents occur.”
Runcie also addressed the news that broke Thursday that the school’s armed school resource officer, Scot Peterson, did not enter the school during the shooting. Israel said security video showed Peterson in the parking lot outside the building for at least four minutes of the six-minute shooting.
“I’m extremely upset — outraged,” Runcie said. “It’s inexcusable. There’s no other word to describe what we heard yesterday.”
“I wish he had the same kind of courage that our teachers who showed up here today had.”
Teachers gathered Friday morning for breakfast, counseling sessions and visits with therapy dogs. Monday and Tuesday will be full planning days, with plenty of services available to “show them the love and care they deserve,” Runcie said.
Wednesday will mark two full weeks since the massacre. Since then, investigators turned the 1200 building into a crime scene. Runcie and the school board have told legislators that students and parents have asked for the building to be destroyed and turned into a memorial, which would carry an estimated price tag of $28 million.
Students return Wednesday for a half week of half days that Runcie called a week of transition and “getting back to some level of normalcy.”
When students return, all of their classes will be shuffled to other buildings and other classrooms, but they’ll remain with the same teachers and classmates, Runcie said. If students don’t feel comfortable returning to the scene of the deadliest high school shooting on record, he said officials would help students transfer to another school in the county.
Maintenance workers have been washing, painting and replacing doors and windows to get the campus back in shape. Students and teachers were allowed to return to gather their personal belongings on Saturday and Sunday.