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Brevard County School Board Allowing Staff Members to Conceal-carry guns on tomorrow’s Agenda

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UPDATE 3:13pm 6/10/24: After media inquiries, BPS sent out this message: The agenda is being updated and will no longer include the original MOU for STOMP, as the information was not up to date. It will be moved to the June 25th board meeting for consideration. The district is working to ensure we provide our community with enough time to view any slated agenda items.

On June 11, 2024, the Brevard County School Board will review and vote on the renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. The agreement aims to continue the Sheriff Trained Onsite Marshal Program (STOMP) for the fiscal year 2025, with a significant and controversial expansion: allowing regular staff members to volunteer to carry concealed firearms on campus.

Focus on Expansion of Concealed Carry

The proposed MOU includes a new provision to broaden the scope of the STOMP program. Specifically, it allows regular employees who are not assigned to classrooms to volunteer as armed guardians. This marks a significant shift in the program, which previously limited eligibility to certain designated security personnel.

The relevant section of the MOU states:

  • “The Board is expanding the S.T.O.M.P. eligibility to regular employees who wish to volunteer to be a guardian, but this expansion applies only to employees who are not assigned to a classroom and is dependent on the terms outlined in the applicable bargaining contract”​​.

Background and Purpose of STOMP

The STOMP program, part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, also known as the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, aims to enhance school safety by ensuring the presence of armed personnel at each school. These personnel include certified law enforcement officers, school safety officers, and now, potentially volunteer staff members.

Key Provisions of the MOU

  1. Implementation and Training: The Sheriff’s Office will provide comprehensive training using FDLE-certified resources. This includes 176 hours of training in firearms proficiency, active shooter response, and mental health awareness.
  2. Personnel Scope: In addition to “Specialist – School Safety and Security” personnel, regular staff members can now volunteer for the program, provided they meet all eligibility and training requirements.
  3. Renewal and Funding: The MOU, effective from July 1, 2024, to June 30, 2025, is subject to annual renewal. Funding for training and equipment will depend on available resources.

Controversies and Concerns

The expansion to include regular staff as volunteer guardians has ignited debate across the community:

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  1. Arming Non-Security Personnel: The idea of allowing non-security staff to carry concealed weapons in schools raises significant safety and ethical concerns. Critics worry about the adequacy of training and the potential risks involved.
  2. Impact on School Environment: There are concerns about the psychological impact on students and staff, with some arguing that the presence of more firearms could create an atmosphere of fear rather than safety.
  3. Resource Allocation: Opponents argue that resources might be better spent on preventive measures such as mental health services and educational programs rather than arming additional staff members.

Upcoming Decision

The School Board’s decision on the MOU will be closely watched, as it will set a precedent for how the district approaches school safety and security. The inclusion of regular staff members in the guardian program is a pivotal aspect of this debate.

Public Involvement

The School Board meeting on June 11 at 9:30 AM provides an opportunity for public input. Stakeholders, including parents, teachers, and community members, are encouraged to attend and express their views. The outcome of this discussion will significantly impact the district’s approach to school safety for the upcoming year.

The decision on the expansion of the STOMP program will shape the immediate future of school security in Brevard County and contribute to the broader national conversation on the best ways to protect students while maintaining a positive educational environment.

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