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Parent at Old Kings Elementary Hires Full-Time Armed Guard at Her $12,000 Expense

| January 21, 2013

What would Martin Luther King do? (© FlaglerLive)

What would Martin Luther King do? (© FlaglerLive)

Laura Lauria has a close connection to Old Kings Elementary. Her daughter is a sixth grader there. She’s been a member of the School Advisory Council. She is an involved parent. And she’s not waiting for the school district to decide when and how to address security concerns she has at her school. She told School Superintendent Janet Valentine that she wanted to have a sheriff’s deputy posted permanently at Old Kings Elementary School from now until the end of the school year.

And she paid for it herself, through her company.

The school district received a check from Police Services Inc., an obscure, Ormond Beach- and Bunnell-based company that also does business as BrightAssLights.com, for $11,776, which covers two months’ worth of deputies’ time, at $32-an-hour, six hours a day, five days a week. Lauria pledged additional installments to cover the rest of the year.

Deputies at the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office work the school shift as cops—as Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies—not as private security. But not as trained School Resources Deputies, either. They do so by “volunteering” for the overtime the opportunity provides. They do not have authority to go into classrooms and teach students about such things as drug abuse, for example, as SROs do. While their presence is scheduled to be permanent, the individuals filling that presence are not, making the development of much rapport with students—a major selling point of assigned SROs—difficult.

A deputy began shifts at the school Monday (Jan. 14), according to Old Kings Elementary Principal Nancy Willis, who is very happy with the arrangement and also worked out details with Lauria. “I think we’re very lucky to have them here,” Willis said.

A Unique Arrangement

Many schools and school districts across the country are taking a closer look at their security arrangements. Some are hiring private security or expanding the ranks of their school resource officers (SROs).

One parent buying full-time security for an entire school, and with a pledge to do so for the remainder of the school year, appears to be a situation unique to Flagler County so far. (It may not be, but we’ve been unable to locate such an arrangement elsewhere). Flagler’s case may spur the school district to act faster regarding security: that’s one of Lauria’s hopes.

But it also raises implications about individuals or companies buying a service for public school outside the prescribed channels, and in this case outside the perimeter of a very detailed contract between the sheriff’s office and the school district, outlining how and where SROs are to be used, and with what authority. The arrangement was carried out with virtually no public input or school board oversight, with no input from the school board’s attorney, with little transparency, and in the absence of any policy controlling such arrangements. For all its generosity, it also sets one elementary school’s security apart from others in the county, in a state where, legally, schools’ essential services (including funding) are required to be on a relatively equal footing.

Circumventing the School Board

The arrangement was negotiated between Lauria and the sheriff’s office. None of the school board members were aware of it until a few days ago, after the deputy postings began at the school. The school district serves as the fiscal agent: Lauria submitted the check to the district, which then wrote a check to the sheriff’s office, Finance Director Tom Tant said. Valentine thought the check came directly from Lauria, not from a company. In her discussions with Lauria, Valentine said, she was never under the impression that the payment would be from a company—and learned of it only on Thursday, after a reporter had inquired about it.

The issue never went before the Flagler County School Board, whose members have only now began learning about it, or about the presence of a deputy at Old Kings. The board met on Jan. 8 and devoted 20 minutes to an update on security district-wide, but that matter was never broached. Andy Dance, the school board chairman, only learned about it Wednesday (Jan. 16), at the end of a meeting he had with Valentine and Deputy Superintendent Jacob Oliva. “The parent stepped forward to donate the money,” Dance said, “as I understood to pay for the security guard for the remainder of the school year at Old Kings, that was her wish. She dealt with Ms. Valentine on that.” (Dance later said that he may have heard about the deputy issue earlier in the week, but wasn’t sure when or from whom.)

Dance knew Lauria from a recent encounter: Lauria had placed a bid on a fund-raising auction for Carver Gym, and won a gift certificate for some landscaping at her house, which Dance provided. Dance didn’t know about Police Services Inc. or the nature of the arrangement for a school cop. Winnie Oden, the principal at the district’s alternative school and long its liaison with the sheriff’s office, also worked out the arrangement with Lauria, but refused to talk about it when asked Wednesday.

She was not alone. Willis would disclose the origin of the money, though the finance department revealed it. Kristy Gavin, the school board’s attorney, was also not in the loop.

“All I knew was there was a parent wanting to pay for security, that’s all I knew,” Gavin said on Wednesday, “and I said well, we’d have to know more information, and I’ve never been provided with any more information.” Gavin had had only one brief conversation about it with Tant, the finance director. “I’m not sure how any of this has been laid out,” she said.

Donor’s Cageyness

This particular arrangement raises additional issues: Repeated attempts to contact Lauria through her company were unsuccessful, as were repeated attempts to learn about the company bearing the name on the check buying the service. A third-party web site refers to the company as specializing in “vehicle security systems” and “custom emergency lighting products for vehicles and motorcycles.”

Jim Levi, who identified himself as a member of Police Services Inc.’s “legal department” (but not a lawyer), would not give further details about the company. He said Lauria had not issued the check of her own, but had appeared “before the board” of the company, which approved the check in the name of the company. But the company has no board aside from Laura and Anthony Lauria. He said he was not authorized to speak for them, but later issued an emailed statement that identified Police Services Inc. as “a private manufacturer of safety minded products for our BrightAssLights.com division.”

BrightAssLights.com has the same phone number and Post Office box address as Police Services. The statement said that “many of our company’s employees have a vested interest at Old Kings Elementary,” and that the hiring of the deputy (referred to as an SRO in the statement) might spur the community “to all come together to put a permanent plan in place and help keep our children safe at school.”

 

Parents and businesses make donations to schools routinely, but the donations are generally channeled through school-based or district-based boards or overseen by policies. Monetary donations for school-based personnel are unheard of. School Board member John Fischer has been trying to set up a fund for teachers, to enable donations that could supplement teachers’ salaries or classroom needs, but the idea has been hung up by legalities.

An Offer They Could Not Refuse

District officials, including Dance, board member Colleen Conklin, and Valentine, are welcoming the donation—saying, one way or another, that they could not turn down such a large check—but adding caveats: that the district itself is developing a comprehensive approach form security and analyzing the feasibility of having more cops in elementary schools. They used to be there, but were removed when Don Fleming became sheriff eight years ago, as part of the sheriff’s and district’s cost-savings.

“You do need to kind of go through this whole process of setting precedent, legal responsibilities and actions,” Conklin said, “but again, I think it’s a temporary fix, we can’t do for one and not do for the other, and we can’t let a parent pay for one school while the district pays for the other schools.”

Conklin added: “We can’t expect one private citizen to cover the costs indefinitely for one school. But it may be a catalyst for us to come up with alternative to solutions for funding.”

The district has six school resource deputies divided between the two high schools and the two middle schools. Palm Coast pays for one of the six. The district pays 74 percent of the deputies’ cost, with the sheriff’s office picking up the balance. When Jim Manfre was first sheriff before 2005—and when deputies were in elementary schools–the sheriff’s office picked up the larger share of the cost. But there were three fewer schools then. The district’s total cost for SROs this year is $286,572.

The Sheriff’s Take

Manfre, too, while supportive of additional security at Old Kings, described the current measure as a “band aid.”

“I understand the parents’ concern and appreciate their wanting some additional security,” Manfre said, “but for it to be cost effective for the parents as well as the school district, we need to have an overall plan for all the elementary schools.” Manfre said getting SROs back in the schools was one of his campaign promises. “You have to ask Janet what the schools can afford. I’ve commented before, we want to be a better partner. When I was a sheriff, the sheriff’s department paid 75 percent and the schools paid 25 percent.” Manfre said a 50-50 arrangement could be worked out.

“SROs in the elementary schools I think need to be had,” Valentine said during the board meeting earlier this month, when she was already aware of Lauria’s initiative. “We know people are willing to volunteer, we know people want to help us come up with solutions to this. As soon as we get our plan in place, you agree to that full plan, then we’re going to move forward on how we’re going to fund it.”

Inevitably, Dance said, the board will have to make choices between the added cost of security and other priorities, including academic initiatives.

Meanwhile, Back In the Schools

When Oden updated the board on security last week, she said the district’s safety team had met with the command staff of the new sheriff, established a clear chain of command at each school, and was preparing presentations to be delivered at each school (what those presentations would consist of is not clear). Teams of school staff and cops would also be visiting schools to analyze vulnerabilities (without telling schools ahead of time that they’re coming). Oden also spoke of the color-coded system (four colors) that will define security conditions at any given school.

“The most important thing when you talk about safety is that there has to be really uniformity in your words and your actions,” Oden said, “so that all the players involved in the situation come to understand what these words mean, there’s standardization, and I think we’ve really done a good job with that.” Oden spoke repeatedly about transparency to the board, but would not answer a reporter’s questions about the arrangement she had helped work out at Old Kings, as the district’s liaison with the sheriff’s office.

Other districts meanwhile are wrestling with similar issues, and approaching those issues in a variety of ways. Last week the board of education in Danbury, Conn., contracted with a national security firm to install private security guards at all its elementary schools. On Tuesday, the Lee County school district in Florida added 10 school resource officers to its ranks, to patrol the district’s 45 elementary schools on a rotating basis. Tuesday evening, the Plano, Texas, school board, which oversees 55,000 students, voted to hire armed, private security guards to patrol 71 school campuses, at a cost of $2.7 million, all from the district’s savings.

But The Hillsborough County school board turned down its superintendent’s $3.7 million plan to add armed guards at every elementary school by next year. “There were two armed officers on the campus of Columbine,” School board member Candy Olson said. “Ronald Reagan had at least four police officers and a whole bunch of secret service agents, all of whom were armed, and he was shot.” The board was willing to keep talking about the issue, however, but insisted that it would not be pressed into making a hasty, knee-jerk decision on security.

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61 Responses for “Parent at Old Kings Elementary Hires Full-Time Armed Guard at Her $12,000 Expense”

  1. Nancy N. says:

    This arrangement has really put the cart before the horse! You can’t just do something like this without policies in place…who does the deputy answer to? Who has the right to remove the deputy or discontinue their service at the school and under what circumstances? What exactly are the parameters of their presence? Who is liable for their actions? There”s a whole can of worms here that you can’t just rush into opening…

  2. Profiler says:

    I’m very happy for the deputies at the school. However, thanks to Flagler Live for digging into the details,there’s going to be a lot more to this story. Questionable company…post office address or a “drop box” address. Parent didn’t go through the school board. If this parent does any business personally with the sheriff’s office…such as emergency lights, etc….is it some sort of conflict?

    Does this mean as citizens we could just pay someone, like to go paint a school, without asking anyone except the principle?

    This is a story that just keeps on giving…round and round we go. Can’t wait for more info. Again though, I am seriously happy about the security at the school.

  3. Jon Hardison says:

    Wow! On the one hand I applaud this parent for taking this ornery bull by the horns.
    But the other hand (my right hand) I’d have to call this crazy. “…Colleen Conklin, and Valentine, are welcoming the donation—saying, one way or another, that they could not turn down such a large check…” Um, YES YOU CAN! Because I might have a $50,000 check for a program other parents don’t agree with. Sex Ed? A Wiffle Ball Team? Maybe a class that teaches our kids how to “spot a gay”?
    What would the school board do for a million dollars? Pink uniforms for the football teams?

    My little guy just escaped elementary school last year, but if he was still there I’d have a real problem with an armed officer walking around. But does it really matter? I’m not willing (or able) to donate more to stop it. Hmmm…

    Regardless of how great this specific situation might be in the eyes of the vast majority of parents and voters, the truth is that it’s policy for sale. “For 10 grand you can write your own!” It’s how we become NOT a free country. It’s exactly what we DON’T want to teach our kids.

    Next point: Who chose the officer? Did the paying parent choose the officer that would get that “over-time opportunity”? I mean, it’s the parent’s money after all. They should be able to choose who guards the kids, right? For all anyone knows the officer getting the cash is her husband or son or nephew. How do we know this person is qualified? That’s right… We know they’re NOT because they’re not an SRO. (Silly me!)

    I could go on and on, but I’m tired and have a lot of work on my desk, so I’ll just say this:
    As gestures go, this is one of the most generous, thoughtful, amazing things I’ve seen anyone do in a long time, and I agree with Conklin and Valentine that the check is large. But I disagree wholeheartedly with their acceptance of it. Every road we travel from this point is simply not navigable legally, morally or otherwise.

    Give the check back and resolve the problem for all. We know you can do it. :-)
    I’d also like to add that something really bad happening in the world does not always require a reaction, no matter how badly we feel or how fearful we are. I don’t think we will feel better because a man with a gun is at the school. Some may… I bet our kids won’t though. What happened was horrible. So unfathomably horrible… And honestly I don’t know how we as a people are going to make it through all the feelings and fears this brought to the surface, but this? This isn’t the answer. This is just escalation and our elementary school kids deserve better.

  4. Reality Check says:

    Listen to all the FCSD employees back pedaling, I was not aware and I have no comment, pathetic attempt to cover their asses as usual if anything goes wrong. They did not hesitate to take the money, but instead of making sure it is ethical and legal first they just took the money. The SB Attorney said she was unaware, you would think she should have been the first one informed of this, did anyone do a background check on the company? Did we make sure the money is from a legitimate business? Nope the FCSB and its greed turned a blind eye to the entire situation. The FCSD is a disgrace, they need to stop salivating like dogs over a bone when it comes to money, only in government can you be inadequate at your job and still retain it. Maybe if each FSCB member gave up 50% of their salary ($15,500 a year) we could hire more security for the schools. Maybe if we got rid of the assistant school board superintendent we could add more security, just more wasteful spending on our districts part. And why would we spend $32 an hour with the FCSD when I am sure we could bid out the process to 3 private firms who could provide the same service for a significant cost savings. Oh wait, it Flagler County Government where we spend first, then get a consultant to see if it was the right decision, then we blame others for the mistake or just bury it under the rug.

  5. Stevie says:

    “Inevitably, Dance said, the board will have to make choices between the added cost of security and other priorities, including academic initiatives.”

    Name one program that is more important than protecting children.

    A mother loves her child so much she refuses to allow her to go unprotected and has made a substantial financial sacrifice.

    Local media outlets and others should organize fund raising or workshops get more security into these schools. Do it now.

  6. marlee says:

    If I didn’t read this story here, I would never have believed it!
    One would think the school is run like a democracy and the other parents have an an opinion.
    I guess this woman feels she and her child are entitled.
    Nothing like a well thought out plan!

  7. Lonewolf says:

    This is like my sister’s tiny W. TX town hiring an extra policeman after 9/11. LOL

  8. Edman says:

    Money from a company or parent is irrelevant. These are public schools and are supposed to be run equitably. No school should have services better than another just because a student goes to one who has a parent with money to burn on what they think is important. The Board needs to step in and stop this practice before we merely have a group of private schools and another equity issue to add to the minority discipline issue we are already facing.

  9. PJ says:

    NOW,

    That was not very hard was it?

    A donation to the Sheriff’s office to help protect our children, Hmm gotta love it !

    Ok and here’s the thing some fool will find fault with it. REALLY?

    A COP IN OUR SCHOOLS?

    I have just one thing to say to Ms. Lauria but this THANK YOU!

    As for the rest of you nay-sayers, why don’t you all get so creative and help the school board/sherrif’s office with some (out of the box thinking) like Ms. Lauria did?…..don’t even try to complain about this one…….PJ

    • Yellowstone says:

      PJ, to answer your question: “As for the rest of you nay-sayers, why don’t you all get so creative and help the school board/sherrif’s office with some (out of the box thinking) like Ms. Lauria did?….. ”

      I did – - I paid my school taxes like everyone else!

      So, I ask in return: Where’s the security for my kids?

      • Steve says:

        She paid her taxes too and then gave a donation… If you wanna donate 12k+, then you can hire a Deputy too…

        • Nancy N. says:

          “If you wanna donate 12k+, then you can hire a Deputy too…”

          Holy cow, that just might be the most elitest piece of crap I’ve ever seen shoveled on this site. So what you’re saying is that if I can’t personally afford to write the $12k check, then my kid isn’t worth protecting?

          • Magnolia says:

            Nancy N, do you not understand that this deputy is there to protect ALL the children, not just her’s?

            Why can’t we thank her for the kind gesture, for giving us all a gift?

            • Nancy N. says:

              All the children at OKES will be protected – not ALL the children. What about my kid’s school, was my point. Are the only kids worth protecting the ones who go to schools where the parents can afford to write $12k checks? No one in my neighborhood has that kind of money to throw around, I guarantee it.

              I don’t actually think that there should be armed deputies in the schools, but if there’s going to be one someplace, you have to do it for everyone. That’s what a free and equal education is all about.

    • Jon Hardison says:

      It wasn’t a donation. It was payment for service. We the people have no real idea what service was purchased.

      Does this mean I can pay a private company to provide security at another school? Can I pay a private citizen (security guard) to protect my child specifically? How ’bout just my child’s class? Does the school board really need to be involved in these things? The questions will just keep coming.

      She could have donated the money and even requested that it only be used for security and the school board could use it toward a county-side solution. That’s not what happened here.

      I believe the “nays” have got this one covered PJ. Sorry.

  10. Grands says:

    My grandchild goes to that school. Regardless of what all these left-wing progressive liberals think, I for one could not be happier. As long as this officer is “trained” and will give his/her life for those kids, I’m all for it. Thank you to the mother who paid for this. We obviously can not depend on the city,state, or government to protect our children.

  11. Ogreagain says:

    It’s another case of money doing what ever it wants. How much would it cost to put her name on the school?

    This school is protected by badasslights.com

  12. Anonymous says:

    Amazing someone does somthing GOOD for our kids/school AND most of the comments are against that person and the help thet GAVE. Why??? because she did not give $$ to every school and their unreasonable fear of a cop with a gun.

    • Kathy says:

      I don’t see that the comments are against the parent giving the money…the comments are specific to the legalities & responsibilities the FCSB and their employees have when it comes to receiving money. As lovely as it is there are certain guidelines that public/government entities must abide by and many generosities have been turned away as it goes against certain acceptable practice and need to be combed through before the FCSB get to put their hand out.

      The alternative for this parent was also private school where perhaps choices like this is less bogged down with red tape.

      Any and all measure of security offered to Old Kings needs to be the exact same as at Bunnell & others. If the parent wants to make private choices like this the first decision to make is which private school.

      It may be unfortunately but it is reality.

      I also wonder…if she wrote the check to FCSB who authorized FCSB funds to be spent in such a large amount to this one school’s security.

      Where are the documents that surround this transaction…Pierre can you post those? They are public documents, the contract, the checks and any email communications, aren’t they?

    • patti bissonnette says:

      Just one more reason to use virtual school and familiar groups and home school your kids, if possible, so you can choose what they are taught in agreement with your moral values and incorporate the needed academic requirements. Some groups of parents are joining together where parents can use their talents in their strong areas of knowledge, while others can help in the weaker areas. The nice part is that the parents can control the setting and times, for working parents. School doesn’t have to take place from 8am-3pm. These children are still able to participate in local sports and events for extra socialization, while the parents are present to watch what is going on. We can’t count on the government to properly educate our children any longer. Just look at where the US stands in education right now…it is a disgrace! Time to take things into our own hands and give our kids the education they deserve!!!! As for the police officer being paid for by a parent..I have mixed feelings. Good for her for being able to try to protect her children while at school…but are the people hired qualified in this area? Should this have had a more extensive meeting with the school board and concerned parents…and are there any conflicts of interests? At least she is an involved parent trying to do her best rather than sitting on her butt and complaining!

  13. bradhar says:

    …”The district has six school resource deputies divided between the two high schools and the two middle schools. Palm Coast pays for one of the six. The district pays 74 percent of the deputies’ cost, with the sheriff’s office picking up the balance. When Jim Manfre was first sheriff before 2005—and when deputies were in elementary schools–the sheriff’s office picked up the larger share of the cost. But there were three fewer schools then. The district’s total cost for SROs this year is $286,572.”

    Doing the math:
    The district pays 74% of the cost for SROs, and it pays for 5 of the 6 SROs; so 5/$286,572 = $57,314 is what the district pays for a SRO. And the sheriff’s office picks up the additional 26% of the tab/pay for these SROs. Are these folks really making that much working a 9 month school year? Or is there some funny business going on?

    BrightAssLights.com The name says it all!!!!

    I can just see the advertising at this school. This school is protected by “BRIGHTASSLIGHTS” Check out our website BriteAssLights.com for all the “BRIGHT ASS WAYS WE CAN HELP YOU GET YOUR BRIGHT ASS LIGHTS GOING!”

    • Bridgetender179 says:

      I asked the deputy at my childs school about his salary and he told me that he makes about $38k and has been a deputy for 20 years. But did say several in his group make a lot more. And he works 12 months a year, working the county when school days are over or not in session. So I guess with your math, the school pays for the months the SRO’s are in the county. A gift back to the community maybe.

  14. Magnolia says:

    There is a police car everyday at Matanzas High School. Why all the fuss about this one? Anonymous, you are right.

    A parent has done something amazing to help us all and is now being piled on by complaints. Could this be what is wrong with our city, our country?

    Progressives, an oxymoron.

  15. confidential says:

    To the nayers here, I would say this is like charity donated to any given organization and given the current circumstances by a very justified concerned parent to offer protection to her child in the Elementary School. Do we ever criticize any funds contributed to an organization because was not given or shared as well to another organization/s. I don’t think so. Lets be realistic currently our school budget has no additional police presence provision ever contemplated before the latest shootings.
    I say to myself I would be terrified if my children were still in school age and as much as the Lauria’s are now.
    I see this unusual situation just being the logical consequence of the unusual tragic events we are all exposed to. Give a break and thanks to these parents and recognize the school administrators and Sheriff have done the best they can.

    • Anonymous says:

      @confidential their are always naysayers and on this there seem to be many why??? they also do not seem to like the idea of charity well unless it is from Government by the way of force or the threat of force.

  16. Helene says:

    Did any of you supporters actually read the last paragraph of the story? Guns do not guarantee security. Having an armed cop in school would not make me feel that my children were any safer. It would do the opposite – it just escalates the violent atmosphere.
    And here’s some common sense concerning our schools that is an extension of the last paragraph of the story. One armed officer (or even two) is not omnipresent. They cannot be at all entrances at all times. If a whacko is as determined as the CT shooter, they can blast though any door of the school – not just the front door. A fence will not stop them; the back and sides of our schools and particularly Old Kings are easy entree for such a monster. I have been in almost every school in the county and only a protective dome over the entire property could possibly seal a school off. And that is just not realistic.

    • Anonymous says:

      @Helene really you would not “feel” your kids are not somewhat safer with a officer of the law on school grounds??? No guns do not guarantee security just like they do not make it less secure. If a officer would use his gun it is not escaleting violence it is used to stop it by criminals.

  17. Ogreagain says:

    it could go the other way, everyone change your kids school to old kings, because they have an officer and then not help with the over crowding.

    Global outreach says there guards will have ar-15 and 10 foot wide moat filled with sharks with lasers for the right price

  18. Gramp212 says:

    Not a private guard, a deputy (paid for on overtime, off-duty pay, like when they did all the contruction on I-95 years ago) for the entire school. No one complained the 2 days before christmas break about the county supplied deputies (just after Newtown). If you’re involved in your kids school, this shouldn’t be of concern. As for advertising or ‘sponsored by’ I highly disagree this would’ve been done for that considering there is nothing posted anywhere referring to the source. Everyone has an opinion afterwards, where was all this before the kids returned to school? No one (media included) wasn’t pressuring the schools for something to hold-them-over until further studies could be done, so I support this. Yes, might not be ‘fair’ that one school gets it and not the others,but what IS fair? Do they all get the same teachers, resources, after-school activities, etc? NO. Call it what you will, jealousy, favortism, or whatever- maybe more people should be involved in their kids & school to begin with. Go to the meetings & talk, be pro-active & not re-active afterwords.

  19. Ron says:

    That’s a pretty ballsy move on the part of Ms. Lauria, but she better pray that nothing goes wrong here. If some type of problem should arise as a result of this armed guard being present, and and innocent gets accidentally hurt, guess who’s getting sued?

  20. Deep South says:

    OK, this lady said I can’t wait on the School Board to drag their feet for months and months. I want it now. Would you bother questioning the donation if someone wanted to buy computers or school supplies? Sometimes things aren’t always black and white. Accept it, and lets move Hopefully this lady will hire more security when her daughter enters middle school.

  21. ANONYMOUSAY says:

    Who or what is the cop protecting the kids from is what I want to know??? It appears law abiding citizens are the ones going bonkers these days, so that makes everyone a potential shooter, suspect or whatever including staff and the cop. False sense of security.

  22. PJ says:

    Yellowstone

    I say and agree don’t tax us more get the monies from outside the tax base.

    I pay my school tax too, they are in a deficit . I hope to see school management do as good a job as they can to manage their revenues so as not to tax us for protection services.

    Our Great Gov. Rick Scott shorted every municipal government in the state.

    So anyway we can get protection outside of taxing us is FINE BY ME !

    Just as I was saying a nay-sayer just had to say something………………….PJ

  23. Jon Hardison says:

    Wow. Seems some are getting a bit name cally for no apparent reason. What’s the dealio? We’re just talkin’… Hashin’ it out. Don’t think all that is called for. :-)

    You hard righties feel the way you feel. Awesome! You’re getting what you want, so I’m not sure why you’d be so upset about knowing how this bothers someone who thinks differently than you. Or all we all supposed to STFU and do as we’re told? Is that the free country you’re looking for?

    We’re all stating out opinions on the matter. That’s all. I think we all agree that the parent in the case is extraordinary and I don’t think ANYONE blames her for being scared.

    But should this be okay? And if it should, how do we do what one parent wants for money, but not others? This parent is paying to put a gun in my elementary aged child’s presence regardless of how I feel about it and the school board says that’s fine. You say that’s fine. So who decides when something goes too far? That’s what we’re talking about.

    I happen to think that one officer has absolutely zero change of protecting either themselves or the children from something like what happened in CT. It’s just another dead body and additional 16 rounds in the building. But that’s me.

    I think that while this parent might feel better, the presence of an officer will make kids more uneasy. Not because they don’t like cops, but because it wasn’t needed before. Why now? Is this ultimately better for parents and worse for the kids? Who knows?!?!

    We have no idea, and we don’t care because this parent made the choice for all of us and changed “public services” to a personal service of sorts.

    Again, I have no problem with what the parent was trying to do. I have a problem with the school board’s ineptitude, lack of foresight and apparent ignorance in dealing with it. THEIR OWN LEGAL DEPT HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON, but the name flingers are ready to take the cash and call it freedom?

    Yeah… okay.

  24. Gia says:

    She is wrong to do this & officials dumb stupid to accept it. Schools are not there to be fortress. Kids go there to learn. These “accidents” happened before & will happen again.

  25. JoJo says:

    Jon Hardison, you have hit the nail on the head, I like your post, the equality issue is interesting in the fact that if every parent wanted their child to attend Old Kings because of a safer facility, the FCSB would be in a pickle because of school choice. and if they didn’t grant your request It might even be a discrimination issue. I would be willing to bet that if a couple thousand parents called the SB Offices and requested a transfer for their child that the FCSB would have to provide equal security at all the schools to rectify the situation. Wanna Bet!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mrs. Lauria!!! I have 2 kids at OKES and I truly appreciate what you have done. Don’t let all the ” it’s not fair!” People get under your skin. They are just annoyed that you have money to spend and you are not spending it the way THEY want you to spend it. They want you to give the money to the politicians and let them decide who deserves the benefits of your donation. I am very thankful that the politicians were left out of it. Thanks again for your very generous donation!

    • Jon Hardison says:

      I think it’s pretty clear and even us “it’s not fair!” people you speak of appreciate what she has done too. I’m sure that our acknowledgement of her remarkable gift is SO getting under her skin. That’s not was us “Progressive”, “Liberal”, “Left-wing”, “it’s not fair!” people are taking issue with. (Jesus, I wish you’d all quite doing that. Why not just call us “stupid cuz we don’t think like you”? LOL! )

      When a government, funded by the people, takes money from a company or an individual to “improve” a public service “specifically for them or those they are beholden to”, we’re talking into fascism. In accepting this money, our school board is setting a precedent. “We will take person/company’s money and in exchange, do a very specific thing in a very specific place.”

      Mrs. Lauria is free do spend her money any way she likes and again, I’m very impressed with the choice she made and hold nothing against her.

      It is the School Board that is NOT free to take any money they like and use it as directed by the donor. This is just one of the limitations of being a public service.

  27. Nancy N. says:

    We are such a reactionist society. We take freak events and turn them into global threats. Before long we will all be living in bunkers afraid to come out.

  28. Cagiva200 says:

    Bad things happen in this world because everything has to be questioned. I bet that all those parents that lost there kids wish would have done the same thing. My kid goes to that school and all I can say is one person did something that a whole bunch of people can’t do……. Thank you thank you thank you

  29. Colleen Conklin says:

    Ouch Jon – man I thought you liked me – lol! Ok can we all please take a deep breath here. The long and short of it is the following: we had a parent offer to cover the cost of an officer for her child’s school. We are extremely grateful for her generous donation but it doesn’t solve the issue. As I mentioned it’s a temporary fix to a larger issue. We can’t do for one school and not do for another. We also can’t expect a member of the public to pick up the tab for one school while the Board pays for the others. However, we can come up with some creative ways to cover the cost of having an SRO at each of our elementary schools. This can’t be done haphazardly – their are policies, processes that need to take place and legal responsibilities identified, The Super is bringing details for us tomorrow. The reality is this isn’t a “new” contract. We already have a contract with the FSD for SRO services. One of the components of that contract is for deputies to be available to work other duties such as athletic events. Because the deputy is NOT a regular SRO they are contracted as available for the OT work at OKES. This is not what we use our SRO’s for. SRO’s do many things at our schools aside from security. The school board had a length discussion and heard a presentation from staff at the last board meeting regarding plans to address school security. One of the stated goals at that time was to work with the FSD to put SRO’s back into the elementary schools. We will know more details tomorrow. I believe the issue is that the story was shared with someone in the press before it was shared with everyone else. As certain staff was working with the parent and beginning to pull in other staff to iron out the details it landed in the paper. Give us a chance – all the details will be shared tomorrow. In regards to whether it’s the parent or her business making the donation, I’m not sure I see the concern. We have businesses donate to our district and the education foundation all the time. I’m sure it’s also a tax benefit for her company to do so. Please know I do understand the precedent it sets which is why it will be discussed tomorrow with the Superintendent and the entire board.

    • Jon Hardison says:

      Oh Colleen… :-)
      You’ve had my support for years and I’m sure you’ll have it for years. You know Inna and I adore you.
      That said, I think it’s important that issues such as this are approached as cleanly and completely as possible. The worst thing anyone could do is pull a punch in the face of something like this.

      It seems like there is still a lot of info to be had that isn’t addressed in the article or comments and it will be interesting to see how all this comes together, but based entirely on this article, I’ve got real concerns.

      I hope to be in earshot when the details finally hit. (We’ve been a bit crazy with work.)
      I’m sure you’ll be on the right side of the issue. That’s why we’ve always voted for you. :)

      My best to you and the bunch.

    • Reality Check says:

      You are a politician at best, in it for the paycheck; the FCSB is a reaction team not a proactive team. I bet more than half would never run with out the bloated salary you are paid (school boards are basically volunteer across this country) when we eliminate 75% of the FCSB salary we will get a board that takes their jobs to heart, not the bank. Here you are back pedaling about the district employees, will this bring a corrective action against Ms. Valentine? Will she be reprimanded for not following protocol, the simple truth is no!! It will be at some wasteful meeting and a we are sorry this won’t happen again. This county is so backwards with all its wasteful spending, consultants, an assistant superintendent, you just spend and spend. Parents want the schools to have an armed officer, than you must either cut positions (not teachers) lower your own salaries or raise taxes (political suicide) so this is why nothing will be done.

      • Colleen Conklin says:

        Reality Check – you really do need a reality check. As you spout off with the mouth behind a nice cozy screen name I’ll run to the bank with my paycheck that comes to about 300 a week. Yeah, I know I’m rolling in the dough. I’m not going to go around and around with you debating whether or not School Board members are just as important as County Commissioners or your other elected positions. There is no big dark evil conspiracy at work here just a mom who was concerned about the safety of not only her child but all the children at her school. Did staff act in haste? In my opinion yes. Was the board and staff just sitting on their laurel’s after the Sandy Hook tragedy, waiting to react to something? NO! If you’re going to spout off with such negative comments you should really know what your talking about. Attend a meeting, read a paper. Sorry patience on this issue is fairly slim. Since the afternoon of this tragedy staff have been working to put together a plan, they are working that plan and the budget to support elements of that plan are coming to the board on Feb. 5th. ALL of which have been shared at board meetings, workshops and the paper. This mom just happen to come forward before all was approved. Again, did staff act in haste – yes but there was nothing evil going on here. Details were shared with some in the public before the board. This was bound to happen as the board meeting was just yesterday. You can hate this board. You can be disgusted that we are compensated per state constitutional law but please, please be a positive force in our community. Question things, stay on top of us but really do we need such nasty negative attacks.

  30. Linda says:

    This is too bizarre.
    But I don’t blame a parent for feeling the need. When the lockdown at the two high schools and Buddy Taylor took place in December, there was no lockdown on the other schools. And where did they arrest the guy – right near Old King Elementary and with a weapon.
    Thank goodness we have a new sheriff in town. I think he would realize that any FB posting might be used to steer people in the wrong direction while another location is attacked.
    All that happened the day before Newtown. We are lucky; they weren’t.
    But this “solution” seems fraught with a whole different set of problems as so many other writers using their common sense have expressed so well.

  31. Shell says:

    I have two children at OKES and next year will have three. I don’t have any problem with an armed guard, of whatever stripe, patrolling the school. I do look askance at the way it was done and thank FlaglerLive for digging into the details. Keep on ‘em.

    One thing from the article I must address. Whether the guard is “merely” a deputy renting out his authority or a “trained SRO” is immaterial. They’re not there to be bestest buddies with the children (though they should be pleasant in demeanor and approachable), they are there to defend their lives if necessary. The children should be taught two things about them (and it should be made clear that this applies to all police officers and the like) – they’ll help you if you need it, and it’s not a good idea to mess with them.

  32. lilith says:

    This is a great solution! Kudos to the parent

  33. Anonymous says:

    Is she going to put an armed guard at every movie theater too? Or maybe the public park where her child plays? What right does any one individual have to make a decision regarding 1000 other children? I have 2 children in 2 different schools here in the county and I don’t want armed guards in the school. My children both feel very safe at their schools without the guards or the parents paranoia.

  34. Lone Wolf says:

    I have been a law enforcement officer in this county for years and also a proud parent. Well, I think its great to have a law enforcement presence at the school. To all of the people yelling about the trained part, all of the deputies receive the same high liability training (ex: active shooters, EVOC, CPR, Firearms training, etc) as the S.R.D.’s. The only difference between a regular deputy and a S.R.D. is the School Resource Officer school, which is geared to teaching kids in the classroom and nothing to do with the high liability areas.

  35. Binkey says:

    Our elementary schools are very large. Just look at Wadsworth/Buddy Taylor campus. Not sure if one security guard will do.

    I think money could be better spent securing the school’s perimeters and adding safety and security features to the facilities.

  36. w.ryan says:

    Jon…are you blue in the face yet? Why is it so hard about understanding that it’s about protocols. How do we evaluate and use this money to the best interest of everyone involved. The sky is blue just like your face. Never mind everyone else’s interpretation. The sky is falling according to this majority.

  37. amom says:

    This is crazy. Unless the intruder happens to be right where the guard is, and the guard has his gun drawn, It will not be any help. In Newtown , even if the principal had bee armed, she could not have stopped the massacre, unless she had been walking around with her hand on the trigger.
    I understand the fear, but this is not the answer.

    • Helene says:

      amom, this was my point also, just put a different way. Same point as Binkey said. The Newtown killer came in guns ablazing. A lone cop with a gun would have been part of the carnage. The Newtown guy had miltary style weapons (as did the theater shoorter) – but that is a whole other topic.

  38. All about publicity says:

    Don’t expect us to pick up the tab to put other officers in any of the other schools by calling a special elections. Ask for donations from parents who have children in these schools—if they want it, they’ll pay for it. The presence of officers in the schools has NOT proven to prevent crime? Did the school in CT have an officer in that school? What makes elementary schools any more important than middle or high schools. Sound here like money talks and BS walks. The school board should have distributed this windfall between all the schools. Who is responsible for this officer, and why such a high rate of pay?

  39. ANONYMOUSAY says:

    Sorry Lone Wolf, You may be a good cop in the streets but that doesn’t make you or any other cop experienced in a gun battle with a bunch of little kids criss-crossing in your line of fire. This is the whole problem. Just because a cop (JOHN WAYNE) or a cop with a gun or ten guns is in the school doesn’t equal automatic safe kids, problem solved. If armed guards, police or whatever are going to be put in schools they need new training specifically for a mass shooting event, screened and evaluated. If this fear is so legit, the best needs to do the job. Just like after 911 and all the other increased training due to terrorism. New York City is now being sued because two cops panicked and shot eleven bystanders while attempting to take down a suspect. Being a cop isn’t an all out pass to give you the keys to the city or our kids lives.

  40. ANONYMOU says:

    too funny, I wish the parents were as involved with the kids as they are with expressing their opinion on this site.

    The parent involvement numbers in Flagler County is low as can be, there are lots of issues, but based on how the donor was cast as “questionable etc” could that over shadow the issue at the core?

    to secure or not to secure,

    My opinion

    as for a Flagler County Sheriff Deputy carrying a weapon, whats the difference between being at the school or a public event like the Potato Festival. To me it speaks to core issue of response time if there is an incident. No deputy, the response would be simply be slower but from the same people that would respond anyway.

  41. ANONYMOUSAY says:

    Obviously parents are paying attention that’s why they are upset over this maneuver. If it’s all the same than why is there a swat team??? Why are there different branches of law enforcement, Military??? Prevention is good one armed man walking amongst children is not. We’re seeing more and more taser incidents now because you get an overzealous cop who is there to intercept trouble, may not be a shooting but he will find trouble depending where the COPS head is at.

  42. Jon Hardison says:

    Yep. We’re all watching. And we all want what’s best for our kids. I think many including “amom” were right when they questioned the efficacy of this move. We’re also forgetting some of the other issues that can arise. What about 6 yo kids being tased? Remember that? That was right here in FL. The assaulted officer at the Matanzas fight a year or two ago. The special needs taser incident at FPC…

    To be clear, I’m not blaming our men and women in blue (Sorry) green. I’m simply saying that they can sometimes be a band-aid where stitches are needed.

    Reality Check said, “Parents want the schools to have an armed officer…”, but I’m not sure we do. What will REALLY be gained and what will be lost (other than money)? In the assignment of these officers what issue are we hoping to fix? Is it security or is it the appearance of security to calm justifiably shaken parents?

    I think many are right in that we don’t need committees and consultants at this juncture. We simply need to look at our own needs. How have we made it without the officers these few years? How have our lock-downs worked out? Are there security issues with the layouts of these campuses that also need to be resolved? (and was security a consideration when designing these structures?)

    I think we may run the risk of doing our community (including our kids) an injustice by assigning our finest to these posts without additional consideration, and in the hopes they’ll tip the outcome of the unthinkable in our favor. It’s not fair or advantageous to put them in that situation.

    So happy it’s really being talked about though. Both on here and by the FCSB.
    Colleen! Don’t let ‘em get to you. Some of us handle anger/fear better than others. ;-)
    Your service is very, very appreciated as is the service of the other members.

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