Rick Scott Directs Schools to Review Safety Plans

By: Jim Turner | Posted: December 19, 2012 3:55 AM

Chris Smith and Dennis Baxley

Sen. Chris Smith and Rep. Dennis Baxley

With memories of last week’s school massacre in Connecticut still hauntingly fresh, Gov. Rick Scott has called for Florida school districts to review their decade-old emergency procedures and further devise means to make campuses safer.

Currently, school districts follow two emergency directives:

The 2001 Safe Passage Act by the Florida Legislature required every district to annually update a safety and security program devised with input from parents, community representatives, local emergency agencies, teachers, staff, and students.

The Florida Department of Education approved its own statewide policy in 2003 that limited school entry points; had grounds inspected daily for suspicious persons; set up an alert  program for parents; and attracted more police coverage during the day.

“Following the tragedy in Connecticut, I join parents everywhere who want to make sure our students are safe,” Scott stated in a release.

“To better protect Florida’s children, I’m asking Florida school districts to review their emergency procedures and work alongside the Department of Education, FDLE and local law enforcement to review and enhance on-campus emergency plans to ensure the safety and well-being of our students. School should be a sanctuary for learning and creativity where students, teachers and parents feel safe -- and a review of these procedures will enhance safety for Florida schools.”

While calling for the schools to reassess their safety, Scott -- who signed a pair of gun bills last year including the controversial “docs and glocks” law -- is not expected to seek additional gun laws.

State Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, who helped write the "stand your ground" law, has told the Florida Current he is considering a bill that would end the state ban on guns in schools.

Yet, Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, expressed doubt to the Current that Newtown, Conn., killings will result in changes to Florida’s gun laws.

“On the heels of a tragedy, some Republicans are saying the right thing," Smith observes, but "as soon as we get into April and May, and [the] NRA crew come around and rattle the cages, I think they all will fall back into line.”

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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