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Brevard residents speak out against arming district school teachers

Board members listen as Melbourne High Sophomore Aiden Beard speaks during public comment.
Brevard County Schools YouTube Screenshot
Board members listen as Melbourne High Sophomore Aiden Beard speaks during public comment.

About a dozen concerned Brevard residents spoke out against a proposal to expand the school district’s guardian program at a school board meeting late Tuesday night.

The guardian program was put in place after the 2018 Parkland shooting, and allows trained personnel to respond in the event of another school shooting.

No one spoke in favor of a proposed expansion of the program during public comment.

But about a dozen parents, residents, teachers and students spoke out against it, especially if that expansion were to include arming teachers.

Melbourne High Sophomore Aiden Beard said he’s a proponent of second amendment rights. But he doesn't agree with arming teachers.

“Adding more firearms to a school campus will not make the students feel any safer. Rather, it will scare most of us even more. Being in high school, I've met people that have dealt with domestic violence and gun violence at home and bringing more firearms into a place takes all of that safety away from them," said Beard.

Beard said just the thought of guns in schools could trigger some students to have panic attacks.

"For students that suffer from forms of anxiety, this could become too much for these students to handle," said Beard.

Brevard resident and Navy veteran James May said he used to guard nuclear weapons in the Navy. As a weapons specialist, he said he doesn't support arming teachers.

"What we do have currently, I think is a decent program. You've got locked doors, no one gets in or out. You've got an officer a trained individual who knows how to use weapons, like a gun for instance. So at least it's safe," said May.

May said allowing teachers to be armed, could actually put more teachers and kids in danger.

"Allowing volunteers to just bring their gun, regardless of what credentials they have. They're not professionals and it's not adding to the actual security of the school. It's introducing another gun, which regardless of who is holding it, is a dangerous instrument," said May.

Board member Katye Campbell said if teachers were allowed to be a part of the school guardian program, they would have to go through training and mental health screenings.

“So we're not just talking about a random person who wants to be one of these people. I even had someone say, ‘I would do it.’ And I’m like, ‘you're not qualified.’ I just want to dispel that misinformation again, that may not make everybody feel better, but I just want to make sure we're all on the same page of the facts of what it could like look like if the board decides to go that way," said Campbell.

Brevard County School currently has 35 trained security specialists who protect staff and students on campus.

The school board's next meeting is December 12.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.
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