Florida legislation bolsters school safety, guardian privacy

by | May 7, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed two bills on Monday enhancing school security through stricter access controls and privacy measures for school safety personnel in Florida.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed two bills on Monday designed to boost school security and safeguard the privacy of school safety personnel. The measures introduce enhanced security protocols and increase privacy protections for those tasked with maintaining safety in schools.

The first measure, House Bill 1473, mandates perimeter and door security measures in education facilities, including locked access points during school hours. The legislation additionally updates the framework for school security, focusing particularly on private schools participating in the state’s guardian program. Under the bill’s purview, such schools are required to bear the costs associated with the training and background checks of their school guardians, although these costs can be waived by local sheriffs.

“These requirements include keeping routes of ingress and egress securely closed and locked when students are on campus and requiring that these routes be actively staffed when open or unlocked, unless a specific exception applies,” a House legislative analysis reads.

The law also requires that records of certified school guardians—who may be employed in public districts, charter schools, and private institutions—be reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

House Bill 1509, the latter measure, provides an exemption from public disclosure for any information that identifies individuals certified as school guardians. This includes data held by FDLE, law enforcement agencies, school districts, and charter schools. According to the bill, the exemption is justified on the basis that revealing the identities of school guardians could compromise their safety and that of the students they protect and aims to prevent potential threats against specific individuals by keeping their roles confidential.

Moreover, it reinforces the requirement for district school boards and superintendents to partner with law enforcement or security agencies to assign safe-school officers—such as school resource officers, school safety officers, school guardians, or school security guards—to each facility. HB 1509 includes a sunset provision, which means it will be repealed on October 2, 2029, unless reenacted by the Legislature.

Both bills received bipartisan support in the Florida Legislature.


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