VCS Plan to Increase School Safety and Security

DELAND – In Volusia County Schools, safety and security is paramount to the success of students and employees.

On Tuesday, January 12, the School Board will consider a plan that would provide more law enforcement resources for school safety and security.

Current employees of the Safety and Security Department who are already certified law enforcement officers – including Director of Safety and Security Michelle Newman – would be utilized. The district does not plan to hire any additional employees. VCS has a strong relationship with law enforcement agencies across Volusia County and would continue to work in partnership with those agencies.

If approved, VCS would have the authority to have sworn officers as part of the existing Safety and Security Department. Newman and approximately five other VCS school guardians who are already certified law enforcement officers will serve as sworn officers. Newman is a 21-year veteran of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office who rose to the rank of lieutenant and worked in all three of the department’s divisions. She was a security police officer in the U.S. Air Force and has two master’s degrees – in criminal justice from the University of Louisville and in homeland security from the Naval Post Graduate School Center for Homeland Security.

The department’s sworn law enforcement officers will have direct access to computer-aided dispatch communications to run background checks and license plates to assist in school-based investigations, Chief Newman said. They will also have law enforcement authority at scenes of incidents and when doing well-being checks, reducing the need for resources from local law enforcement partners.

Many other school districts in Florida have similar hybrid arrangements with their own sworn law enforcement officers who work alongside school guardians and school resource officers and school resource deputies provided in partnership with other law enforcement agencies.

Funding will continue through the existing safe school grant received from the state for the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program. Additional costs would be minimal. Law enforcement equipment is funded through the grant, and no new facilities would be required. Additional costs would be limited to vehicles and laptops equipped with CAD communications.

In accordance with state statute, all Volusia County Schools have a school guardian and/or a sworn law enforcement officer, with the Sheriff’s Office and city police departments sharing in the cost for those officers.

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