Polk County Sheriff and superintendent disagree on plan to arm teachers

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) -- The debate over arming teachers is intensifying in Polk County. The Polk County Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd posted a video message on the school's Facebook and YouTube saying no to arming teachers.

"As superintendent of the seventh largest school district in the state, I want to be very clear on where I stand - this is absolutely not the answer," Byrd said in the recording.

This is a stark contrast from Sheriff Grady Judd, who has been outspoken about training and arming teachers.

"The active shooter is going to your child's classroom and there's no police officer around. Do you want someone well-trained with a firearm to intercede and stop the active shooter before he kills your child?" Sheriff Grady Judd asked recently.

In her recorded message, Superintendent Byrd said the schools do not need armed teachers.

"We need resource officers, mental Heath counseling and more secure campuses," she said.

Parents we spoke with in the community seemed to be just as divided.

"There's nothing else you can do when an armed assailant comes into a classroom other than use your body as a shield. I mean, if they're trained that way then that seems perfectly fine," Jessica Wells told WFLA.

Meanwhile, Dan Simmons said it should not be left up to teachers.

"I'm opposed to arming teachers. I don't think they should have that responsibility. I'm not opposed to security guards that are trained with firearms being in the schools, but teachers shouldn't be responsible for that," he said.

The School Board of Polk County will discuss school safety during its March 13 work session. Public comments on the issue of school safety may be made during the public comment portion of the School Board's meeting. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. and will take place at the Polk County Public School Administrative Offices.

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