School board delays vote on Guardian Program in Putnam County

Board wants school safety task force to come up with recommendation first

By Ashley Harding - Reporter

INTERLACHEN, Fla. - An expected vote on a program that would allow trained school employees to carry firearms in Putnam County schools has been postponed to May 1, the district announced Tuesday.

The Guardian Program is one aspect of a sweeping school safety bill passed by the Florida Legislature. The new law would allow sheriffs and school districts to train school employees who are not full-time teachers and to carry guns on campus. That could mean a coach, a part-time administrator, or anyone considered a guardian of students.

The Putnam County School Board was expected to vote Tuesday on whether to participate in the program, which is optional for districts.

Sheriff Gator DeLoach has already voiced his support of the idea, and wants the board to vote on it as soon as possible.

"I can tell you though, whenever you try to organize a program of this magnitude that it takes months and weeks of preparation," DeLoach said earlier this month. "My concern is that if we wait until as late as July to make a decision, we will likely not be able to implement the program."

The vote on the "Safety and Security Plan" for Putnam County schools was pushed back to May 1, however, to give a school safety task force approved by the board a chance to weigh options and give the board a recommendation.

The task force is made up of 21 administrators, teachers, students and bus drivers under the direction of Superintendent Dr. Rick Surrency.

The board will consider the task force's recommendation and will vote at its regularly scheduled meeting at 3:30 p.m. May 1 at the Putnam County School Board Meeting Room in the District Administrative Offices at 200 Reid St. in Palatka.


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