Are Florida's New School Security Requirements Making Campuses Feel Safer? Listeners Weigh In.

Jan 7, 2019

Jessica Levenson remembers the armed guards with bullet proof vests and rifles on campus after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. 

"It made me feel unnerved," she said. 

She said it made Nova High, in Davie, feel more like prison than high school. 

Despite appreciating the extra security, which the Florida Legislature implemented to make school campuses feel safer, she felt less secure.  

It's been almost one year since the Parkland school shooting and some families are still reeling from the massacre. WLRN asked parents in the community how they and their children have responded to the extra security measures on campus. Here's what some of you had to say: 

Eileen Maltese in Coconut Creek doesn't worry about having an extra officer at school; there was one there before the Feb. 14 shooting. Instead she's more concerned about security at the front gate.

"The school's front doors are wide open, not just unlocked," she wrote WLRN. "The side doors are often left propped open and classrooms are not always locked."

John Mehew and his wife, Vanessa Newton Mehew, have two elementary-school-aged children in Parkland, who are 8- and 11-years-old. In the immediate aftermath of the Feb. 14th shooting, her boys, Jake and Alec, didn't go to school for 15 days.

"The classes were empty," she wrote to WLRN via Facebook messager. She said she and her family "felt exposed" because there was "no safe place to live or go to school."

For weeks after the shooting, her kids, she said, were scared. When they did eventually go back to class, it was anything but normal. There was a one bomb threat close to campus, multiple lockdowns and drills on the regular. 

Vanessa Newton Mehew said her children didn't feel safe until their family, who owns a bullet resistant protection company, contributed a polymer protection for the windows and doors of the building. But for the six months between when extra officers arrived on campus and when the bullet resistance polymer was installed, she said it was hard.

Lindsey MacGruer pulled her daughter out of a private school because she thought the school had lax security policies. There was no armed guard. 

"I am disappointed with how little the private school we left did to respond to Marjory Stoneman Douglas," she told WLRN. "But I've been thrilled with how our new school has responded."

She moved her daughter to a school with "stringent security, including an armed SRO on campus at all times.

My daughter's first code red was tough, but through monthly practice drills, it has become a bizarrely normal part of her educational routine," she said. 

How are you and your children handling the new security measures at your school? Send us a note with your experience to TalkToUs@wlrnnews.org.