The Flagler County School district received two subpoenas from the statewide grand jury addressing safety issues, but School Board Attorney Kristy Gavin says the subpoenas are merely informational and identical to those sent to many other districts, and that the Flagler district is in compliance.
Impaneled by Gov. Ron DeSantis, the statewide grand jury convened in Broward County in June to investigate what the governor charged was mismanagement of safety protocols in Broward–site of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in February 2018–but the grand jury was directed to examine districts across the state as well.
In June, the grand jury issued an interim report severely criticizing districts for lax security measures and non-compliance with new measures the Florida Legislature approved this year, but it did so without providing specifics: no single district was named. That’s led to speculation in Flagler and elsewhere.
“We’re hearing a lot about the grand jury that took place and I just want to be sure that we’re not missing anything and know that our district is in full compliance,” School Board member Colleen Conklin said at a board workshop last week. ” I get so irritated when I hear about districts not in compliance, and people are making broad, sweeping statements, and it sounds like a majority of school districts are not in compliance. I’ve asked how many are not and I can’t seem to get an answer. But at the end of the day we can make sure that we’re in compliance. So I just want to know: is Flagler County schools in compliance?”
The brief answer from Gavin was yes, though the answer was measured.
“At this point in time what I can state to the board is that from what we are aware, we have not been receiving any communications whatsoever to indicate that the grand jury has found Flagler County school district to not be in compliance,” Gavin said. She went on to reveal the two subpoenas and their substance (one of which you can read in full here), underlining the fact that they were not the sort of subpoenas requiring testimony. “It was where we could supply documentation, and that was sufficient.”
One subpoena, for example demanded copies of records relating to all safety and security of school buildings linked to a grant program, including details on all revenue and spending from the grant program, project management records documenting personnel, equipment and materials used, and whether “project objectives” were met. The information was to be submitted to Special Agent David Hubbard of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Orlando. Because of the scope of the subpoena, the district was still gathering that information last week, and had not yet provided it to FlaglerLive.
A second subpoena requested copies of the district’s contract for school resource deputies, the number of charter schools operating in the district (just one: Imagine School at Town Center) and whether they have school security within the law’s parameters (Imagine does). The district fulfilled that demand. (You can read the full response here.)
Gavin said that the district was “ahead of the game” on safety requirements, with top staffers, including herself, attending “threat-assessment training” out of the county, then bringing back the information and leading similar training sessions with staffers assigned to threat-assessment teams. “It is a full-day training, and some of the districts were saying they can’t do that prior to the school year,” Gavin said, “we are very blessed with the fact that we have 10 schools plus our charter school, and we have invited the charter school to attend.”
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which is also examining the Parkland massacre, was meeting today and Thursday, and devoted a late-afternoon segment to a presentation on a survey from the Office of Safe Schools, which included some of the information being investigated by the grand jury.
The survey was completed this month, and revealed that while 10 districts in June still did not have an officer present at all times when school was in session, all 67 now said they were in compliance. But as of Aug. 9, 19 charter schools were still “non-compliant.” (They were in Coral Springs, Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale, Hollywood, Plantation and Pembroke.) The survey also found that 46 districts authorize the use of so-called “guardians,” or armed staffers, instead of law enforcement officers, to comply with the requirement that every school has an armed presence. That doesn’t mean those districts actually use guardians, though some use a combination of armed staffers and law enforcement officers.districts use armed staffers.
Full results of the survey are below.