A 2018 law enacted in Florida in requires K-12 schools to have at least one “safe-school officer” on the premises. Schools can choose between a school resource officer, who is employed by a law enforcement agency; a school safety officer, who is employed by either a law enforcement agency or the district school board; or a school guardian, a school employee (non-teacher) trained to stop lethal attacks with a firearm. Only 24 of 67 school districts in Florida requested money to participate in the guardian program during the 2018-19 school year.
Manatee School for the Arts a public charter middle/high school in Palmetto, has taken its participation in the guardian program to another level, creating an armed camp. The school is the first to arm its guards with semiautomatic rifles (the Kel-Tec RDB, an AR-15 knockoff). The guards, who are combat veterans, also carry Glock handguns and wear body armor. As if that is not enough, Manatee School is adding a guard shack to its entrance and raising its perimeter fencing to a height of eight feet. More than 450 surveillance cameras dot the school’s campus.
School principal Bill Jones even issued a warning to would-be mass shooters. “If someone walks onto this campus, they’re going to be shot and killed,” he said. “We’re not going to talk with them. We’re not going to negotiate. We are going to put them down, as quickly as possible.”
“When seconds count, police are minutes away,” Jones added, aping the NRA. “If someone comes in with a handgun, great, than we have a tremendous advantage.”
Please contact Manatee principal Bill Jones and superintendent Cynthia Saunders through one of the channels listed below and give them the following message, personalized to your liking:
I was repulsed and horrified to learn that Manatee School for the Arts has hired two combat veterans to patrol the school with semiautomatic AR-15-style rifles, handguns and body armor. This is just part of the militarization of the campus, which includes the installation of a guard shack, eight-foot-high perimeter fencing, and 450 surveillance cameras. It is both cruel and unnecessary to traumatize middle and high school students with this type of environment. All of your steps are reactive in nature. None of them would do anything to PREVENT a school shooting from happening in the first place. Furthermore, because virtually every single school shooter in America is a current or former student who obtains firearms from home, the message you are sending to your young people is, “We will do nothing to protect you from guns that you might access in the home during periods of crisis in your life. Instead we will arm to kill you, and take that step without hesitation when need be.” It is a disgusting, cowardly, and total abdication of responsibility by Manatee administrators. If you really cared about the safety of your students, you’d get off your butts and lobby for stronger gun laws in Tallahassee, including an assault weapons ban and measures to hold parents/guardians criminally responsible when unauthorized minors gain access to their firearms. After the Parkland tragedy, Florida residents are SICK and TIRED of firearms idolatry and the escalation of violence in the places our children learn and play. If you continue this barbaric policy, we will replace with you non-corrupted officials who are up to the task of disarming the violent individuals who prey on our children.
Manatee School for the Arts Principal Bill Jones
Phone: (941) 721-6800
Superintendent for School District of Manatee County Cynthia Saunders
Phone: (941) 708-8770
After you contact principal Jones and superintendent Saunders, fill out the three fields below and click the orange banner to report taking action!