Florida woman makes donation to school district
Money will go to pay for deputies to patrol elementary school
Move follows mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut
A Florida mother concerned about safety has donated more than $11,000 so that armed deputies can patrol the elementary school where her child attends, Flagler County Public Schools said Tuesday.
Laura Lauria made the decision to donate the money to the school district after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 young students were gunned down, said Principal Nancy Willis of Old Kings Elementary School.
Lauria did not want to be interviewed, Willis said, and she could not be immediately reached by CNN.
“I spoke to her this morning and she may release a statement later today,” Willis said. “We were very pleased because of the safety of our children and employees.”
The money will help pay for a “rotation of deputies” to patrol the perimeter and hallways of the elementary school through the end of the school year. The program began about a week ago, Willis said.
The school, about 20 miles north of Daytona Beach, has 1,165 students.
The Flagler County school board is looking into “having deputies at all five of [its] elementary schools,” Superintendent Janet Valentine told CNN. A plan to have deputies in all schools will be presented to the school board in February, she said.
“There’s been some indication from the sheriff that they could assist with the cost,” Valentine said.
The district, which has 10 schools, already employs armed guards at its middle schools and high schools, according to Valentine.
“In the meantime, when we have a generous donation like this, I don’t think we can refuse that,” Valentine said of Lauria’s offer to pay the $32 per hour it will cost to keep a deputy at the campus.
Old Kings Elementary briefly “paid for a deputy on campus a few days before Christmas because of what happened in Newtown,” Willis said, but this is the first time the school has had a full-time armed sheriff’s deputy on patrol.
“The children are not drawing the connection between Newtown and the guard being here, but that’s why he’s here,” according to Willis. “The children have not responded being upset or hyper about it at all.”
The school says the decision to put the guard on campus was supported by a committee comprised of parents, teachers and community leaders.
“Everyone has been very receptive,” Willis said.
An e-mail requesting comment from the district parental involvement committee was not immediately returned Tuesday.
“I’m really surprised by the attention we’re getting because of this. There’s never been a reason for concern for safety at our school,” Willis said.