Stoneman Douglas Commission Talks Safety And Privacy Before Start Of School Year

Aug 8, 2018

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission met Wednesday with Guy Grace, the director of security and emergency planning for Littleton Public Schools, the district that's home to Columbine High School. 

The commission continued their investigation on the events that led up to the February 14 mass shooting, what went wrong and what can be improved. They will meet Thursday as well. 

At the top of Wednesday's agenda was a discussion on best practices for hardening schools with physical security technology.

“It’s eerily similar what I’m hearing today, [from] what we experienced in our community,” Grace said as he presented the commission with knowledge on security technology he has implemented in his district.

Read more: Columbine Expert Sees Similarities With Broward School Security Issues  

Commission members include public officials, law enforcement officers and parents of some of the victims, who were dissapointed that Broward doesn't have someone with Grace's expertise. 

He talked about the importance of radio interoperability, access control systems, door locks, video management, microphones and other technologies that his school district has implemented.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who leads the commission, gave an update on the recently approved county radio tower that would update the current communication system, which did not allow first responders to communicate in a timely manner due to an overload of frequencies. 

“The overarching theme is a lack of urgency,” said Commissioner and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. He proposed to subpoena the mayor of the city of Tamarac, who is still negotiating logistics, which the commission says is slowing down the process for the new radio tower. 

The rest of the day focused on law enforcement data sharing and privacy requirements for health and student's educational records.

The commission spent an hour and a half discussing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or FERPA, the federal law that prohibits student records from being released without consent. 

On Monday, the Broward County School Board asked a judge to hold the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper and two of reporters in contempt of court after the newspaper published a report about shooter Nikolas Cruz.

The Broward School Board alleged that the newspaper published information from Cruz's educational records that was supposed to be redacted. 

The commission meeting will continue Thursday, August 9. Commissioners are required to produce a report on the events leading to the Feb. 14 shooting and security solutions by the end of the year.