Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., returned to school Wednesday—without a single big safety measure planned after a former student killed 17 people on the campus in February.
Broward County Public Schools trustees initially pledged to have the metal detectors in place by the start of this school year. Last week, Superintendent Robert Runcie admitted in a letter to parents that wouldn’t happen. Logistics are a key problem: Administrators are trying to figure out how to move 3,000 students through the security checks quickly and efficiently. Although it doesn’t have metal detectors, the school did get fitted with new security cameras and locks for classroom doors.
The metal detector conundrum is part of a statewide trend. Schools are struggling to meet new safety standards passed by Florida lawmakers after the Parkland massacre. Fulfilling the mandate to have armed guards at every campus has proved especially difficult. According to an Associated Press investigation, about one-third of the state’s 67 school districts are meeting that requirement by using civilians, including school staffers.
Cost is one challenge. But officer availability is a bigger problem. Before state lawmakers passed the post-Parkland security bill, Florida police and sheriff’s departments already had several thousand vacancies. Kathy Burstein, a spokeswoman for the schools in Palm Beach, summed it up this way: “There simply are not enough officers to go around.”
Florida’s struggles should serve as a warning to other states. Lawmakers faced tremendous pressure after the Parkland shooting to do something. But it looks like the something they did in a rush, without thinking through the consequences, created more problems than it solved. —L.J.