I think having these safety assistants in our schools is a terrible idea because they make our schools less safe. I have grave concerns that with so little training they may mistake a disruption for a life and death situation, that as well as putting guns around children where accidents can happen. I believe trained professionals not glorified security guards was the way to go.
All that being said, there is one good thing happening and that’s Duval isn’t rushing to fill the positions.
The district needed to hire 105 safety assistants over the summer, but as of the first day of school on Monday, just 24 had started work. In the meantime JSO sent 130 officers to work in Duval’s elementary schools as well as some charter schools.
Duval County School Police Director Micheal Edwards said he’s received about 400 safety assistant applications, although some of them are duplicates, so he didn’t have a true number of applicants.
The assistants are trained through the firearm-heavy Guardian program administered by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in addition to more training from the school police department, adding up to about 200 hours. They start out making $12.50 an hour with summers off.
Edwards said 112 applicants were disqualified for various reasons, including failed drug tests or background investigations.
Duval Superintendent Diana Greene said she’s comfortable with the plan because quality hires matter.
“The fact that we are vetting these individuals very critically is what’s most important to ensure that once we hire a school safety assistant we have a high level of confidence that this person can perform the duties of that position,” she said.
Fifteen applicants were disqualified after a psychological examination. Edwards said that entails the applicant’s answering about 950 questions and then sitting with a psychiatrist to go over their answers.
The school district decided to also require applicants to take polygraph tests, which disqualified 20 of them. Edwards said one disqualified candidate admitted to recently taking someone to buy drugs, and another confessed to watching pornography daily.
Where i still don’t like the program, the deliberate way we are hiring does make me feel a little better.
It should also be noted the state sent the district about 3.6 million dollars to do a job that was projected to cost over ten. Just more proof that the republicans in Tallahassee don’t care about our public schools, but this time its the safety of our children that has drawn the short straw.