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FPC’s Problem Solvers Will Present Their School-Safety Initiative to Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission

| March 5, 2019

Senior William Patin, one of the six members of the problem-solver team that developed FPC's safety initiative, describing an aspect of the plan. (Flagler Schools)

Senior William Patin, one of the six members of the problem-solver team that developed FPC’s safety initiative, describing an aspect of the plan. (Flagler Schools)

Members of the Flagler Palm Coast High School Community Problem Solving Group “FPC Bulldog Patrol” have been invited to present their project to the next meeting of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, April 9-10, at the BB&T Center in Sunrise.

The 16 member commission includes members of law enforcement, mental health experts and the parents of students killed in the February 14, 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward. Fourteen students and three faculty members were gunned down in the attack. The commission began meeting in April 2018 and last met on Jan. 2, when it delivered its final report. The commission is continuing to meet every two months.

Damien Kelly, who heads Florida’s Office of Safe Schools, traveled the state following his appointment to that position to see how security improvements are being handled at each district. His visit to Flagler County in January was the first time he saw students have input into the process. “All the other districts trotted out their security people,” district spokesman Jason Wheeler said. After watching the FPC Bulldog Patrol give their presentation, Kelly suggested to Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who chairs the commission, that students and their teacher give their presentation to the full commission, highlighting their ideas.

Gutieri agreed and forwarded the request to Jacob Oliva, Flagler’s former superintendent who last month was named chancellor of K-12 education. Oliva formalized the invitation. Flagler County School Board members this afternoon will hear a request by Superintendent Jim Tager to spend $1,335 to pay for the students’ trip to Sunrise. Tager, FPC teacher and problem-solver leader Diane Tomko and Winnie Oden, the district’s safety consultant, are also going. The money is to pay for the group’s accommodations. They will travel in a district van. Sunrise, a suburb of Ft. Lauderdale, is 260 miles to the south.

The FPC Bulldog Patrol is made up of freshmen Nicholas Blumengarten, and Abbigail Carver, sophomores Sydni Leon and Gabrielle Jackson, and seniors Katia Martynuk and William Patin.

The problem solvers have assembled classroom survival kits with the help of fellow students in FPC’s Fire Leadership Academy, facilitated getting first-aid training for teachers, coordinated with students in the school’s aeronautics program and Air Force JROTC to work on a plan for first responders to use drones to monitor the campus during an emergency, collaborated with members of the school’s television production team to create a safety video, and worked with Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly to have K-9 units randomly patrol the school.

diane tomko

Diane Tomko (© FlaglerLive)

“It is an honor to be invited and I hope this will make other students want to do the same and have a voice in their safety,” FPC student Gabrielle Jackson said.

Broward County students in the aftermath of the school massacre took the lead as students seldom had never before, in the wake of mass school shootings, in pressuring lawmakers to more effectively address school safety and gun control measures. They partly succeeded, winning large increases in school safety budgets but only nominal gains in gun control measures. The FPC students’ initiative adds a different aspect of student involvement to improve safety in their own school. “I think it’s absolutely incredible to see how high schoolers are really making a difference in improving our school environment,” FPC Bulldog Patrol member Sydni Leon said. “I am so proud to be a part of a project helping our school enhance our safety, which will hopefully inspire others to follow too.”

The students are the product of Tomko’s problem-solving legacy: her students over the years have brought home innumerable trophies in state and international competitions and spurred problem-solving groups in the district’s other schools to develop their own teams. “These students are problem solvers whose passion has enabled them to share their voices in a proactive manner. This is what education does,” Tomko said, it “empowers students to find and use their voices to better humanity.”

FPC’s Bulldog Patrol is expected to compete in state and international competition later this year, with the appearance before the nationally-known Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Commission further helping to sharpen their profile.

Damien Kelly, who heads Florida’s Office of Safe Schools, listening to FPC's Bulldog Patrol at the school. (Flagler Schools)

Damien Kelly, who heads Florida’s Office of Safe Schools, listening to FPC’s Bulldog Patrol at the school. (Flagler Schools)

“When it comes to campus safety and security plans, we need our students to have a seat at the table,” Tager said. “The members of the FPC Bulldog Patrol are proof that if you educate and then empower your students, they will never stop amazing you with their innovation.”

The district holds periodic, closed-door meetings with the school board to discuss safety issues. Students are not permitted to sit in. But Wheeler said those who are can be liaisons that help mesh what the district is doing overall with what students are developing at their school. Whether the Bulldogs’ initiative can be replicated across other schools will be up to the district safety team, including Tager, Earl Johnson and Oden. But the point of the Bulldogs’ plan, Wheeler said, is that it is tailored to their specific school. One of their messages to safety officials is that there is no cookie-cutter approach. “Every school is different,” he said, with this plan developed by “students who walk the halls, who know the hallways, have some sort of input into a school’s security plan, and that’s where this came from.”

Tager this afternoon will briefly update members of the school board on the problem solvers, and is expected to give a more detailed update at the board’s monthly meeting March 19.

The Bulldog Patrol during Kelly's visit earlier this year at FPC. (Flagler Schools)

The Bulldog Patrol during Kelly’s visit earlier this year at FPC. (Flagler Schools)

6 Responses for “FPC’s Problem Solvers Will Present Their School-Safety Initiative to Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission”

  1. Reality check says:

    A public show is all this is. You want to leave it up to a bunch of kids to make suggestions ,however in reality as a parent I have not seen you do one thing different to protect or make our school more safe. That school is so old and large what money have you spent making it safer? I walk in the front lobby and nobody stops me there are a bunch of kids always sitting up there horseplaying I’m their phones . Nobody asks for id there and even though the policy states I’d cards are to be worn … nobody wears them and my kid tells me the issue is not even enforced …but you want to send some kids to a school that suffered a tragedy? How about fix our stuff first !!!! I walked around the entire campus without being asked for my I’d card or who I was … I walked through the principals office and not one word . My kid also tells me that the school is lying about the dress code policy which includes mandatory I’d cards to be visibly worn on a student , but he also told me that the Deans are telling teachers not to enforce the policy because it makes their numbers look bad …. so let’s keep ignoring the little things here and when something big happens we won’t need to travel to figure out stuff we will have a solving issue with our own school!!! Good job to the kids having ideas to hell with the adults use me that idea to get publicity to make Flagler look good even though we can’t secure our own school….

  2. FPC Granny says:

    School safety is so important! An important area that lens to issues at schools is the ramped “bullying” here in Flagler County in all the schools. I feel that teachers, staff, SRO’s, counselors and all employees of the schools know who are the bullies, but turn a blind eye! IMHO I feel addressing the bullies would make schools a much safer place.

  3. John S. says:

    I get the part about bullying , but I guess it would tie into crime if the bullying started and ended with someone who was bullied too much and want to retaliate …this is some school project that they want a pat on the back for this has nothing to do with actual school safety . Kids need to be in school to learn and not be focused on what law enforcement and our school admin should be focused on… where are the cops in this ? Where’s the sheriff ? Those are the ones that are gonna deal with this I don’t want my kid talking about flying a drone to catch a bad guy …. he should feel safe at school… my kid doesn’t wear his badge because he was told he no longer has to but only keep it in his wallet … what sense does that make ? How do you identify a kid ? In New Jersey they used to stop every car at the front gate … I drive there everyday and not one person stops me or looks at me then I spoke to the nice lady at the front desk area and she simply said hello and buzzed me in lol … I didn’t go in I was there to pick my kid up so I do believe that is how it works there so what good is problem solvers when your own school is a joke ? The ideas those kids have has nothing to do with that school because if it did they would have more issues and solutions than they have now … as a parent I take responsibility for my kids actions he will wear his badge from this point in because it’s safer and last I knew it was school law . If they are not doing anything about bullying we are failing our kids … if they are manipulating stats to look awesome we are failing our kids …what say you taeger?

  4. oldtimer says:

    How about parents getting involved in kids lives teach respect at home, teach your kids not to bully take responsibility for YOUR kids. I didn’t worry about mass shootings when I was in school and neither did my schoolmates

  5. teach1 says:

    I can tell you we do not enforce dress code I have tried numerous times to address this issue to no avail .. was told basically to let it be because we are writing up too many kids. So we let kids hang Kant’s off their butts and wear gang colors for the sake of keeping our stats low. And no our students do not wear their I D cards on their clothing….even tho it’s in our handbook …so yes a bad guy can walk right in this school easily …. that’s the problem we need to solve unfortunately ..

  6. Student says:

    @Reality check if you came in the school you definitely showed the front desk attendent your ID and they make a copy and print you a sticker to wear that says the department you are visiting. The doors are also locked until they click a remote to let you in. So I highly doubt you just walked in, didn’t show ID and were able to get into the school. And if you did get in, many teachers and staff would immediately be suspicious that you don’t have a sticker on.

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