The Flagler County School Board on Tuesday voted not to proceed with a ‘guardian program’, a proposed measure that would arm faculty to protect students in the event of a gunman on campus. The Board voted 3-2 to turn it down, with the majority being formed by Chair Cheryl Massaro along with Colleen Conklin and Sally Hunt. Christy Chong and Will Furry were in the minority.
Had it passed, the vote would’ve entered the School Board into an arrangement with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office in which the latter organization would’ve applied for grants to fund the program. It would’ve required those who carried firearms on campus to undergo training, plus drug and psychological evaluations.
Proponents of armed defenders on school campuses aren’t completely without hope – Massaro and Hunt both expressed an openness to one day revisiting some form of the guardian program, and schools will remain protected by school resource deputies, members of the FCSO contracted to serve on-campus.
If it had been implemented, the exact faculty who were armed would not be public information, nor would any evaluation of their training by the FCSO. In the view of Furry, this would be an effective deterrent by creating more risk for a would-be shooter. Though he and other supporters hoped that point and an examination of other districts who’ve approached the policy would lead to Flagler support, they did not get their way in the final vote.
Those opposed to the program cite the responsibility required to use a firearm in a dangerous situation, along with the potential for deadly accidents. Their view will likely remain the policy of Flagler Schools until 2025 at least, when the next School Board is sworn in following the 2024 elections.