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Students flee the campus after 2018 shooting attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Grand jury says many Florida districts aren't complying with new security laws

Interim report from statewide grand jury school districts and law enforcement agencies have been at odds over who is responsible for enforcing new security measures.

A Florida grand jury impaneled to investigate school safety has found that just weeks before the 2019-20 school year begins, numerous school districts in the state are not in compliance with security laws passed in the aftermath of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the grand jury’s first interim report points to admnistrative hurdles, increased costs, and shortage of qualified employees as some of the reasons cited by school and law enforcement officials for the lack of compliance.

“Without discussing the specifics of their explanations, suffice it to say we find this testimony wholly unpersuasive,” the grand jury report reads.

The report did not provide details or specify which districts were out of compliance.

“We have seen and heard troubling evidence of conflicts between school district officials and law enforcement agencies regarding who is ultimately responsible for executing and enforcing SB 7026 and SB 7030," the grand jury wrote, referencing the two laws that add security and mental health requirements for schools.

“The responsibility of securing our schools is not a matter to be passed from agency to agency, it is not a budget item to be haggled over, and it is not an agenda issue to be whittled down by negotiation into minimum legally sufficient actions," the report says. "Now is the time for everyone tasked with implementing and enforcing these laws to take action.”

The grand jury on school safety was impaneled following a request by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. It was impaneled in Broward County because of concerns about that district’s response to the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but the grand jury has a broad mandate to investigate districts’ compliance statewide.

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