Parkland Report Released; Father of Victim Seeks Accountability
Andrew Pollack, the father of a teenage girl who was killed in a school shooting in Florida last year, was appointed to the state Education Board by outgoing Gov. Rick Scott.
Scott appointed Pollack to the board Friday. Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was one of 17 people killed at a Parkland, Florida, high school, Feb. 14, 2018, still needs to be confirmed to the seat by the state Senate.
Pollack, 52, who became a school safety activist after the shooting, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, “What I hope to accomplish is accountability at a local level, to hold school boards accountable and superintendents accountable.”
The governor, who will be stepping down from his post next week, was elected in November to the U.S. Senate. He had said during the campaign he would serve out his term as governor, which ends Jan. 9.
Nikolas Cruz, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has been charged with killing 17 people. Police say he used a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle. The mass shooting caused a larger debate nationwide regarding gun control measures, and also led to a local investigation.
Safety commission report
Pollack’s appointment to the Education Board came days after a report released by a special safety commission in Parkland that recommended arming teachers to secure schools.
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission released more than 400 pages covering details of the shooting, identifying security problems and making recommendations.
Among the recommendations was the expansion of a program that allows teachers and staff members to carry concealed firearms to defend students in the event of an active shooter. The state teachers union and PTA have voiced their opposition to the plan.
“School districts and charter schools should permit the most expansive use of the Guardian Program under existing law to allow personnel — who volunteer, are properly selected, thoroughly screened and extensively trained — to carry concealed firearms on campuses for self-protection and the protection of other staff and students,” the report read.
Armed Teachers More Common in Arkansas
While several states, including Texas, Missouri, Arkansas and Ohio, allow teachers to carry weapons, several others began to consider doing so after the Parkland shooting.
Members of the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers union, “overwhelmingly reject” plans to arm them in school.
The current Guardian Program, signed into law by Scott shortly after the shooting last year, currently only allows administrators or non-teaching staff to receive firearm training.
In April 2018, the Broward County School Board voted against adopting the program, which would have given Broward County Schools more than $67 million to train and arm teachers, according to the Eagle Eye, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s newspaper.
This week’s report also recommended a full internal investigation of the Broward County Sheriff’s office, which first responded to the shooting, to “address all of the actions or inactions of personnel on Feb. 14, 2018.”
The committee, which includes sheriffs, state politicians, and parents of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas victims, among others, first met in April 2018, setting January 2019 as its deadline to submit a preliminary report. During the second half of 2018, the commission held monthly meetings interviewing witnesses and reviewing “a massive amount of evidence,” according to the report.