SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) — The Sarasota County School Board will consider possible changes to the district’s current visitor policy this week.
The revised policy, if approved, would allow parents who are “in good standing with the Sarasota County School District” to walk their student to class once they get to school in the morning.
In a email last week, the Sarasota Classified Teachers Association asked school board members to postpone their discussion on the issue until they gather more data. The teacher’s union said in a survey with almost 1,500 responses, more than 93% of district staff said they think the proposed change is a bad idea.
“I am suggesting that the district survey the entire population of parents to see how they feel on this matter before proceeding. Based on our survey results we now know the staff is adamantly opposed to your proposed action. Why would any elected school board want to unilaterally implement a policy that is deemed unwise by a vast majority of the stakeholders,” wrote the SC/TA representatives in the email.
Following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018, district officials in Sarasota County made changes to make schools safer and more secure.
“We put millions of dollars into hardening the campuses and everyone was beginning to feel safer now. Now, they are saying we want to open it up and let people walk around the campuses,” said SC/TA executive director Barry Dubin. “We have 100,000 parents in the school district. Why don’t we ask 100,000 parents and if that is what they want, if they think it is safer to have people walking around the campuses, fine, let’s do it. I am OK with it, but why wouldn’t we ask all 100,000 parents rather than just the loudest ones.”
8 On Your Side spoke with numerous parents about the proposed changes Monday. We heard mixed opinions.
“I do think having access to campus is important because you just want to feel involved with where your children are, and if you don’t feel involved, you just feel like it’s just going to be a question mark, like what is going on,” said local mother Shaquanda Williams. “You want to make sure that your child is in good hands.”
Some parents felt giving more access to the campuses will open the door up to possible dangers.
“I don’t think that is a good idea. I think parents should not be allowed on campus at all,” said mother Ewelina Zubrycka. “We can drop kids off in the car line works perfectly fine, we can say goodbye, then and there. There’s no reason why parents should walk their kids into the classroom.”
School Board Chair Bridget Ziegler wrote a post on social media Monday saying, “parents are not the enemy, and WILL be welcomed back onto campus with all security standards remaining”.
School board leaders will discuss the possible policy change during their board workshop starting at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. At the school board meeting Tuesday evening, elected officials will decide whether or not to advertise the revised school board policy, which would be adopted at a later date. That meeting begins at 6 p.m.