FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. – As summer vacation is well underway, the Clay County School District’s new police force is getting ready to take control of the schools when classes start up again in August.
The formation of the Clay County School Board Police Department has been a source of contention over the last few months, as the district found itself in a public dispute with the Clay County sheriff over who would protect the schools.
No longer will there be sheriff's deputies at Clay County School Board meetings. At a school board meeting Thursday evening at Fleming Island High School, it was the district's own police officers providing security.
The force is currently going through training to get up to speed for the first day of school.
Whether the police force would be in fact ready day one of the 2019-20 school year was a source of criticism for many in the county, with the loudest voice being Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels.
But that criticism has gone practically silent since the news of Daniels’ affair with a former subordinate broke in mid-May. That news came weeks after Daniels seemed to find common ground on this issue with Superintendent Addison Davis.
Ever since, School Board Police Chief Kenneth Wagner, who was flanked by two lieutenants at Thursday's meeting, said it has been smooth sailing as all the officers needed for the next school year have been hired and he gets nearly four dozen men and women fully up to speed.
"They’re excited. They’re happy," Wagner said. "They’re really engaged and want to get to their schools and they want to start forming those partnerships and relationships with those kids."
Wagner said his officers will be going into the schools and meeting with the administration at each school in the week before school starts in August.