School safety is a priority after the shooting in Uvalde. Commission Chairman Marjory Stoneman Douglas said after years of failing to meet state safety requirements, Broward County public schools are making big improvements.
He credits the new superintendent, Dr. Vickie L. Cartwright.
“(The) past four years, it’s no secret that the commission has been quite critical of the Broward County School District and I think this is an opportunity to showcase the improvements that have been made” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who is the chairman of the safety commission.
Gualtieri says he has seen more progress in the past six months than in the past four years, and the actions of Broward Schools should be copied by other districts in the state.
“We found a big problem in the Broward County School District, and a lot of it, I would say, was a culture problem, and there was a culture problem because of the lack of accountability,” he said. Gualtieri said.
The sheriff dedicated over the past four years to try to prevent another Parkland shooting by leading the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, which was created after the tragedy.
“The most important obligation we all have is to meet the expectation of parents that when they send their children to school in the morning, the children come home safely in the afternoon. “, did he declare.
But for years, public schools in Broward County did not follow the commission’s recommendations, Gualtieri said.
“We were just talking lip service and things weren’t going the way they should have been and it was very frustrating,” he said.
Sine Cartwright resumed this school year, there have been big improvements, he said. The district has made progress in assessing student threats, which Gualtieri says is the best way to prevent school shootings.
An audit came out last year after spending a lot of money on threat assessment software, there were flaws in the implementation. Now Cartwright has a dedicated training person and has even suspended several school administrators for not complying, according to the audit.
Gualtieri also points to improvements to the PROMISE program, an alternative to the arrest program. Broward did not share the names of the students, fearing it could lead to criminal records, but in September Gualtieri said Cartwright had agreed to share that information with the state.
He also points out that Broward uses metal detectors and implements Alyssa’s Law, which puts panic buttons in schools for staff to alert the police. Law enforcement also has direct access to school cameras.
“It was a big problem at Stoneman Douglas because after the shooter shot and killed everyone and left the school, the cops came, they were watching a video that was 20 minutes long,” said Gualtieri said. “And that hampered the response because law enforcement didn’t have direct access, which is ridiculous.”
Gualtieri says about 85% of Broward School’s cameras are law enforcement-related and Cartwright promised 100% of them will be by the start of the next school year.
“What we’re seeing now is not only that they have the right infrastructure and the right software and process, but people are actually doing it,” Gualtieri said.
He adds that Broward schools are not perfect and that more changes need to be made.
NBC 6 asked Gualtieri about school fights and other violent incidents we’ve covered this school year, but he said it wasn’t his place to comment, saying his goal was to prevent shootings. in schools. But he added that the district is a good example of how to go from the bottom of the safe list to the top in a short time.
Cartwright will speak at the next committee meeting in August.