In an era where safety and security are paramount concerns, Lakeside Christian School stands committed to providing a secure learning environment for students at every stage of their educational journey—whether in Christian elementary, middle, or high school. The evolving landscape of education necessitates a comprehensive approach to safeguarding the well-being of students, faculty, and staff, and Lakeside recognizes this imperative. In response to the dynamic challenges of the times, the school has taken a proactive stance by incorporating its first dedicated School Safety Officer (SSO), certified through the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Guardian Program.
This strategic move not only underscores Lakeside’s dedication to safety but also aligns with the broader educational community’s collective responsibility to ensure that each private Christian institution becomes a sanctuary of learning, shielded by robust safety and security measures. The infusion of the Guardian Program into Lakeside’s safety protocols marks a transformative step in fortifying the heart of Christian education. As the school continues to prioritize safety and security, this initiative exemplifies Lakeside’s commitment to fostering an environment where students can thrive academically, spiritually, and socially, free from concerns about their well-being.
The Guardian Program, initiated in 2018 through the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, emerged as a direct response to the tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14th, 2018. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission underscored the critical need for highly trained personnel in schools to respond immediately in the event of a school shooting.
As subsequent legislative sessions unfolded, the Guardian Program underwent expansions, encompassing Class D and G licensed security guards and school district or charter school employees volunteering to participate. State funds were allocated to participating Sheriff’s offices, covering screening and training costs for each school district or charter school guardian. Additionally, district and charter school employees received a one-time stipend of $500 for their service in the program.
In a legislative shift in 2023, House Bill 543 extended the Guardian Program’s reach, allowing private Christian high schools in Clearwater, FL, including Lakeside Christian School, to participate. While these schools are responsible for covering all training costs, the extension emphasizes the universal recognition of the importance of security measures in all educational institutions.
The commitment to safety now extends beyond public schools, embracing private Christian high schools in Clearwater, FL, and reflecting Lakeside’s dedication to providing a secure environment for Christian elementary, middle, and high school students in Clearwater, FL. Lakeside Christian School has taken a proactive approach, training and employing a dedicated School Safety Officer through the Guardian Program.
The Guardian Training provided by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is a linchpin of the Guardian Program, ensuring that those entrusted with the safety of Christian elementary, middle, and high school campuses undergo comprehensive and rigorous preparation. This program instigated in response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act involves the hiring of armed guardians who complete a minimum of 132 hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training.
The training spans a wide array of critical skills, including psychological evaluations, drug tests, and certified diversity training. The Pinellas County School Board’s decision to participate in the Guardian Program led to the hiring of nearly 90 guardians who underwent an extensive five-week, 176-hour training program developed by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) Training Division.
While guardians share the overarching goal of keeping students, teachers, and faculty safe with law-enforcement-certified school resource officers, there are distinctive roles and limitations. Armed with a handgun, body armor, and a flashlight, guardians do not possess arrest powers or the authority to detain, interrogate, or question subjects. Furthermore, they lack patrol vehicles, handcuffs, police radios, or secondary weaponry.
Nontheless, for Christian elementary, middle, and high schools, guardians play a crucial role in enhancing the overall security infrastructure. They provide an additional layer of protection that complements existing safety measures. At Lakeside Christian School, the presence of a dedicated School Safety Officer through the Guardian Program underscores the commitment to safeguarding the entire school community.
The extension of the Guardian Program to private Christian high schools in Clearwater, FL signifies a momentous step toward creating safer educational environments for all K-12 students. Lakeside Christian School, through its active participation in this program, exemplifies a commitment to the safety and well-being of Christian elementary, middle, and high school students in Clearwater, FL. As the Guardian Program evolves and includes private Christian high schools in Clearwater, FL institutions, Lakeside contributes to a collective effort ensuring that every Christian educational institution remains a secure haven for learning, growth, and spiritual development.
For more information on the Guardian Program and its impact on school safety, visit the Florida Department of Education website. To learn about Lakeside Christian School’s commitment to safety and its various programs, please visit its official website. For details on the Guardian Program’s implementation in Pinellas County and additional safety resources, explore the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office website.