Teachers Bash Florida Proposal to Arm Custodians, Other Staff: 'It's Not Going to Make Schools Safer'

A proposal introduced in the weeks after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting by Florida's Brevard County that would arm some staffers, including custodians, has caused some discord among local residents.

The plan, known as the Sheriff-Trained Onsite Marshal Program (STOMP), would allow full-time personnel to carry guns, according to WGMT-TV. It would not include classroom teachers.

"It's a nonsolution, and it's not going to make schools safer," said Dan Bennett, the president of the Brevard Federation of Teachers union at a public forum Tuesday, reported NBC.

"I know how stressful it can be working in a school. And to arm somebody who that is not their sole job, I just think would be a terrible mistake," said Stephanie White, a school counselor at an elementary school, reported WFTV.

Before the meeting started, a crowd of demonstrators protested against the measure.

The county's school board plans to vote on the proposal May 8. Out of 700 eligible school staffers, about 40 percent said they would be interested in it, said Matt Reed, the assistant superintendent, NBC reported.

Last week, the school board in Florida's Broward County struck down a proposal to arm some school employees. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the location of a February 14 school shooting that left 17 dead, is part of Broward County. Out of 700 eligible school staffers, about 40 percent said they would be interested in it, said Matt Reed, the assistant superintendent, NBC reported. Funds for the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, named in memory of the coach who died in the massacre, should be allocated toward school resource officers, said the board.

In the aftermath of Parkland, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a $400 million school safety package law. Of that, $67 million had been earmarked to go toward the "school marshal" program, which could lead to some armed school staff members. School districts would then have to choose whether or not to enact the program.

The proposal comes at a time when 57 percent of teens are worried about the possibility of a school shooting, according to new Pew Research Center surveys this week.

The Brevard County Sheriff's Office did not return a request for comment.

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Ryan Deitsch, a senior, carries a sign that reads "love" for the National School Walkout at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on April 20. Seventeen of his classmates and teachers were killed during a mass shooting there on February 14. Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Teachers Bash Florida Proposal to Arm Custodians, Other Staff: 'It's Not Going to Make Schools Safer' | U.S.