Feb. 23, 2018
VIERA, Florida - Brevard Public Schools applauded Gov. Rick Scott’s efforts to listen to students and educators in forming his plan to keep campuses safe.
“Our schools are still vulnerable,” Superintendent Desmond Blackburn said. “The governor’s proposals are serious ones that match what our students and staff say they need to be safe. We would embrace the challenge of making his ideas work.”
On the Space Coast and during visits with lawmakers, BPS students have called for professional mental-health services on campus, training on how to survive active shooters, more security ‘hardening’ of school buildings, and measures to keep guns away from mentally unstable people. All of those measures appear in the $500 million plan Scott proposed Friday in response to the Feb. 14 shooting rampage at a Broward County high school that killed 17.
BPS already has taken significant steps to improve the security of its students and employees:
- Hiring the Brevard Sheriff’s Office to manage school security. Deputies respond instantly – and frequently -- to any reported threat to school safety, including threats made in social media. They also assist principals with “lockdown” drills.
- Providing armed police resource officers to all high schools and middle schools across the Space Coast under contracts with cities and the sheriff. Several cities including Titusville, Rockledge and Satellite Beach assign police officers to elementary schools.
- Accelerating the installation of high-quality security fencing, remote-controlled entrance locks and video cameras at all schools with a goal of completion by April 2018.
- Publicizing a frequently used anonymous hotline -- 800-423-TIPS (8477) -- where tipsters can report threatening behavior to the Sheriff’s Office.
Blackburn was among the school leaders invited to Tallahassee by Gov. Scott to an emergency workshop on security Feb. 20. He and the Brevard County school board have worked recently to elevate student voices on security-related issues.
One week before the shooting (Feb. 8), BPS drove 16 high school student-government presidents to the Capitol, where they advocated for state funding for professional mental-health services on campuses. Travel was sponsored by Parrish Health Network.
On Friday (Feb. 23), state Rep. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando, met with students at Astronaut High School in Titusville to hear their thoughts on school-security and gun bills on which he was expected to vote the following week.
Students at Titusville High, Heritage High and several other secondary schools have staged or planned peaceful “walk outs” to demand precautions against further school violence.
What’s next: Brevard Public School leaders continue to assess campus security with the Brevard Sheriff’s Office. The school board will respond as fast as possible to any laws passed by the Legislature.
Matt Reed, assistant superintendent/PIO
321-633-1000, ext. 796