Broward County school district officials spent the summer promising that there would be armed security on every campus by the first day of school — but left 28 summer school sites without that same level of security just months after the deadliest school shooting in Florida’s history.
District spokeswoman Tracy Clark said Tuesday that there was no plan in place to staff any kind of armed security, either with school resource officers, contracted law enforcement officers or non-sworn armed guardians, in school sites that hosted retained third-graders in summer reading camps and extended learning for exceptional education students. Agreements with municipalities to staff school resource officers expired June 7.
“I’m told by the department that does those summer reading camps, [that] there is funding that can be provided to schools to cover security,” she said. “They may have gotten a campus monitor, a security specialist. Maybe not an armed security person, but providing some security on campus.”
Steve Spiegelman, a Pompano Beach parent and vice president of the school district’s facilities task force, said he visited Nova High in Davie in the first few days of summer school and noticed there was only an unarmed campus monitor.
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But when he raised the issue with School Board members, Superintendent Robert Runcie and Chief of Staff Jeff Moquin before a board meeting in June, Spiegelman said he received a startling response.
“They pretty much wanted to hush me up and not to talk about it because they didn’t want me to alert some wackos out there,” he said. “They rolled the dice over the summer and hoped nothing happened.”
Clark said that municipalities may have simultaneously hosted their own summer camps at those summer school sites and could have provided armed security, but she could not name which municipalities participated. Clark also did not have a figure for how many students attended summer school.
The school district beefed up security measures after a former student killed 17 and wounded 17 more at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland on Feb. 14. The district has been scrambling to hire armed guardians, a cheaper and faster option, to comply with a new state mandate to put an armed school safety officer on every campus.
District officials on Tuesday, however, asked the city of Fort Lauderdale to staff 13 schools that remained uncovered in the city the day before students return to class, according to the Sun Sentinel.
The district also renewed some of its school resource officer agreements for the 2018-19 school year. But agreements with Fort Lauderdale and Margate, as examples, only place school resource officers on campus until June 5, 2019.
Clark said the district is exploring extending school resource officer agreements, if needed, through the summer.
The Miami-Dade County school district staffed officers from its schools police force at all 81 summer school sites, said spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego.