Somerset Parkland Academy
Somerset Parkland Academy

Parkland, Fla., charter school will have high-security campus

Feb. 11, 2020
Somerset Parkland Academy is scheduled to open later this year less than three miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Parkland, Fla., traumatized two years ago by a horrific failure in school security, soon will be home to a charter school that promises to be one of the most secure campuses in Florida.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that construction is underway for Somerset Parkland Academy. It’s less than three miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, the site of the Feb. 14, 2018, mass shooting that killed 17 students and staff and forever changed the way Broward County and the nation think about school security.

Somerset plans to open in August. It initially will serve about 500 students from kindergarten to sixth grade. The school plans to eventually grow to a K-8 serving 1,280 students,

The  school has been described as a “fortress” because of its high-tech security features, such as:

  • Surveillance cameras monitored in real time with a seven-day loop.
  • A controlled gate with a license plate reader to check cars driving in.
  • Surveillance cameras monitoring in real time.
  • Concrete interior walls.
  • A 6-foot fence around the property, as well as an 8-foot non-climbable fence surrounding the school building.
  • Steel pipes, known as bollards, to prevent a car from driving into the school.
  • A lobby with bullet-resistant glass and somebody checking IDs.
  • Two bullet-resistant doors separating the front office from the classroom.
  • Two uniformed police officers.

"This will be one of the most sophisticated and modern facilities in the state as far as security features,” said Michael Moskowitz, the school’s attorney. “Security has been a major issue, and certainly the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas impacted a lot of people’s views on this.”

The Broward County School Board, which will be responsible for monitoring Somerset’s progress, approved a contract with the school last week.

Somerset will be Parkland’s first charter school. It is run by Academica, a large charter school management company that operates about 125 charter schools in Florida.

Given that Stoneman Douglas is a high school, many in the community have wondered if a charter high school is next.

“While it is always Somerset Academy’s goal to provide a full K-12 program, at this current time there is not a plan for a high school at that facility," Somerset spokeswoman Adri Lima Mederos says.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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