Palmetto, FL—Principal Bill Jones doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to student safety. Jones is responsible for the students who attend the Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, Florida. He made the news this week for his bold way of addressing threats to student safety.
Jones has hired to combat veterans who will be armed with semi-auto rifles to patrol his school campus and guard students.
This move wasn’t out of left field. After all, Florida law requires that schools have a paid staffer who is a ‘Safe School’ officer. But instead of a ‘rent-a-cop’, Jones was looking for a bit more. In fact, he went well above the minimum standards that the state requires.
To quote Principal Jones: “We’re not looking for a fair fight. We’re looking at an overwhelming advantage.”
The two guards both have seen combat. In fact, the first one Jones hired had 15 years in the infantry. The second guard will start in February and has also seen combat.
And it was important to Jones that the men not only be trained but have actually seen combat. He explained his thinking, “I wouldn’t hire anybody who hadn’t been shot at and fired back,” Jones said. “I need someone who has been in that situation.”
The Local Sheriff Agrees!
The local Palmetto police chief has no problem with it. Chief Scott Tyler said as much to local news reporters when asked for comment on the school’s policy. Tyler said, “Assault rifles, whether you are for them or against them, are prolific in our society. So why would we not want the school guardian to have parity with that potential threat?”
Principal Jones said that most parents have been accepting of the guards, especially after learning some of the details of how they’ll conduct their job. Both guards have undergone 132 hours of firearm proficiency training. Further, while they’re on the school campus, they will not have any rounds in the chamber of their rifles. And when they go home at night, the guns go with them to remove any temptation for thieves to break into the school.
Principal Jones admitted that the two salaries of nearly $50,000 “substantially exceeds” the funding that the State of Florida gives the school for the ‘safe school’ officer. But for Jones, that’s a price he’s willing to pay.
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Man, it’s good to see that the ‘gunshine state’ isn’t just a distant memory. This principal cares about those kids and is willing to take the heat from keyboard haters for his choices. We salute him and those guards! The parents of those students can rest easy while their kids are in school because they’re in good hands.