Judge dismisses lawsuit over armed safety assistants at Duval schools

Parents who filed the lawsuit argued School Safety Assistants actually put students in more danger.

Duval County Public Schools (DCPS)
Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) (News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A judge has dismissed an amended lawsuit filed by Duval County parents of several public school students last year that sought to prohibit the Duval County School District from having armed School Safety Assistants (SSAs) on school campuses.

A group of parents and two nonprofits who filed the lawsuit argued SSAs will actually put students in more danger.

According to the Dec. 5 ruling, when the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 7026 after the massacre at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School, it created an exemption to the state law that prohibits the possession of firearms on school grounds. The law made Florida the first state to require police or armed guards at all public schools.

The judge said SSAs are covered by the exemption, in their roles “in support of school-sanctioned activities.”

Anyone can apply to be a school safety assistant, but they must go through a background check, complete 80 hours of firearms training, 16 hours of precision pistol instruction plus training in diversity and legal issues.

The judge wrote the Legislature could have been more clear in its intent of the exemption, but “school-sanctioned activities…is sufficient to establish the Legislature’s authorization for school guardians to carry firearms on school campuses.”

A lawyer for the plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal with the First District Court of Appeals on Jan. 3.

About the Authors: