Information Regarding Charter School Compliance with Safe School Officer Requirements
On Wednesday, August 14, 2019, Broward County Public Schools sent representatives to several Broward County charter schools to ensure they were in compliance with the requirement to have a Safe Schools Officer (SSO) present for the first day of school. Some of the schools visited were selected based on lack of documentation of a sustainable security plan and others were based on having new school administrative personnel.
During these visits, one charter school was found to not have an SSO present on campus. The school had an armed security guard who is scheduled to attend the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) Guardian training class in September, however, at present, is not certified by BSO. The school was informed, as it had been noticed and instructed previously on several occasions, it was required to have a law enforcement officer present on campus every day during the school day until it had a certified Guardian. BCPS Superintendent Robert W. Runcie was informed that the school was out of compliance, and he instructed staff to go back to that school the next day to confirm whether it was in compliance. In the interim, District staff drafted an agenda item for the Tuesday, August 20, School Board meeting to close the school for health and welfare violation. Terminating charter school agreements is the only means the School District has available to hold charter schools accountable.
On Thursday, August 15, District representatives revisited the school and again found there was not a SSO present. Brian Katz, BCPS Chief, Safety, Security & Emergency Preparedness officer, and Damien Kelly, Director, Office of Safe Schools for the Florida Department of Education, met with the principal of the charter school. During this discussion, the charter indicated its past efforts to secure a SSO, and reviewed with Chief Katz and Mr. Kelly a Detail Officer Agreement the charter had previously entered into with its municipality. The municipality indicated to the charter school which days it would be able to staff with a law enforcement officer, and which days it would not be able to staff. The first two days of school were not scheduled to be covered by the municipality.
The District previously notified charter schools that such arrangements with law enforcement agencies, which are “as available,” are not sustainable plans. District staff contacted BSO and the municipality’s police department to determine whether a higher rate permanent assignment could be placed at the school until the school employee scheduled to complete the Guardian training was able to do so. Ultimately, the municipality’s police department agreed to provide coverage every day. The District is waiting to receive the contract for services.
The Superintendent will bring a recommendation regarding the closure of the charter school on Tuesday, August 20 to the School Board. The District expects that the charter school will send a representative to present documentation indicating a long-term sustainable coverage solution.
BCPS also assisted two other charter schools on Thursday, August 15, to secure similar agreements. The School District will continue to work aggressively to ensure that every charter school in Broward County is in compliance. For charter schools not in compliance, the Superintendent will recommend immediate closure to the School Board.
Charter schools are independent public schools that have their own board of directors, which provide governance for the schools. Charter schools are held accountable to the School District for organizational, financial and educational performance. BCPS has the authority to terminate agreements with any charter school that does not have a Safe School Officer on campus.
ABOUT BROWARD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”
Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school district in the nation and the second-largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has more than 271,500 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 234 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 89 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 204 different countries and 191 different languages. Connect with BCPS: visit the website at browardschools.com, follow BCPS on Twitter @browardschools and Facebook atfacebook.com/browardschools, and download the free BCPS mobile app