MIDDLEBURG – The Washington-based National Council for Home Safety and Security named Parkland, Florida, the safest city in Florida last year, citing only seven reported violent crimes and 186 …
MIDDLEBURG – The Washington-based National Council for Home Safety and Security named Parkland, Florida, the safest city in Florida last year, citing only seven reported violent crimes and 186 property crimes.
Yesterday, Parkland’s only high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, became the site of one of the deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history after Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student of the school who was expelled for fighting his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, entered the school and shot and killed 17. Another 14 were wounded and another five are currently facing life-threatening injuries.
Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie said yesterday’s horrific shooting was the kind of news no one ever wants to have to hear. While speaking to the monthly meeting of the Clay SafetyNet Alliance the morning of Feb. 15 in Middleburg, Clay County School Superintendent Addison Davis said the incidence should make everyone stop and think about the importance of mental health services.
“As you see with what happened yesterday in South Florida, you can see that mental health in Florida is very serious,” Davis said. “It’s unfortunate that we have to experience these types of behaviors within our districts and within our schools, a place where we believe that is psychologically safe for all.”
Davis said that Florida is 41st in student mental health and 38th in the nation for resources available to those who require help with mental health needs. Furthermore, Davis said 6 out of 10 students are not getting the help they need. These statistics come from a report from Mental Health America, a national nonprofit dedicated to addressing and promoting the overall health of all Americans.
“As Superintendent, I have to get better,” Davis said. “I must get better at the emotional and social aspects for our learners and really train out teachers, through youth mental health training, so they can have early warning indicators to better assist those who might darken the doorways.”
When asked about what steps the Clay County School District plans to take following the deadly Parkland shooting, Davis said beyond working to increase mental health support systems and awareness, the district will actively pursue more money to fund more statewide security. Currently, the district receives $500,000 each year from the state for school district security but according to Davis, that’s barely enough to cover the resource officers placed at high schools.
“In a perfect world, we wish we could have resource officers in every one of our schools but we don’t,” Davis said. “Now, this is an opportunity to have a greater push to legislators and say, ‘hey, we have to do things differently.’”
For Davis, what happened yesterday was tragic and heartbreaking but he believes Clay County can and will do better.
“As we transition forward to a place that should be so protected, we come to a place that, as of yesterday afternoon, is broken, that is fragile,” Davis said. “I stand before you as Superintendent knowing that we will continue to look into more measures for Clay County to protect every one of our students and ensure that our schools are places where learning and proper cognitive behaviors are taking place every day.”