JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County School Board received an update on its plan to hire and train 105 school safety assistants to carry guns in Jacksonville schools this fall.
To comply with the Florida law passed in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in February, each school is to have an armed employee at every public school.
Some communities are trying to fund having a police officer in every school. Others are participating in the Guardian Program, in which an existing school employee is trained by a law enforcement agency to carry and use a gun. Duval County has chosen to hire safety assistants for schools -- mostly elementary schools -- where no police officer is currently assigned.
The school district's police director said the district held four job fairs and received 316 applications for the open positions.
Board members were told:
- The school safety assistants will have at least 200 hours of training.
- The first 40 people hired will begin their training July 9.
- Other employees, such as lieutenants, detectives and dispatchers, are also being hired through the program, for a total of 125 new employees.
The board was also updated on the mental health initiatives mandated by the new law. The district plans to supplement funding to the Kids Hope Alliance to expand mental health services in all schools.
This involves increasing the number of therapists and access to screenings and mental health training. Students is in need of mental health treatment will receive assessment, diagnosis, intervention, treatment and recovery services.
The School Board is expected to approve its final plan for traditional schools on July 9, and charter schools are supposed to submit their plans on July 16.