Judges hear arguments on lawfulness of Duval School Safety Assistant program

School safety assistants lawsuit

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Duval County ‘School Safety Assistant’ program is back in court. A panel of judges will hear from both sides on the program’s lawfulness. A trial court dismissed the case in 2019. The plaintiffs in the case are now appealing that decision.

The Duval County School Board established a School Safety Assistant program in 2018. Duval County elementary students, their parents, and the League of Women voters sued the board, saying it the program was unlawful.

The trial court dismissed the case, and now it is being appealed.

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The Florida Legislature enacted legislation after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School allowing schools to take extra safety measures.

Under the program, school employees can volunteer to participate.

Volunteers must have a concealed weapons permit, firearm safety training, pass a psychological evaluation, pass a drug test, and go through training on an annual basis.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which represents the appellants, says safety assistants should not be allowed to have firearms on school grounds and it is unlawful.

SPLC argues money should instead be put into guidance counselors and school nurses rather than firearms.

SPLC also has concerns that the program disproportionately targets students with disabilities and minorities