Viera Charter School leaves armed safety to professionals


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Viera Charter School Board Chairman Robert Jordan and Sheriff Wayne Ivey sign an agreement June 15 for the school to hire a "new era" of School Resource Officer from Brevard County Sheriff's Office, witnessed by BCSO Chief Doug Waller, left, VCS Assessments Dean Michelle Norcross, BCSO CFO Greg Pelham, VCS assistant principals Dr. Lynn Spadaccini and Tom Armstrong, Principal Dr. Julie Cady, Charter School Associates President Michael Strader, Chief Alan Moros and Maj. Andy Walters.

photo by Linda Wiggins

Viera Charter School signed a contract June 15 for a Brevard County Sheriff's Deputy to work as a “new era” of School Resource officer in response to increased school shootings.

“We are excited that we were able to come to an agreement with Sheriff Wayne Ivey and his Sheriff Department,” said Robert Jordan, chairman of the VCS School Board.

Traditional public schools in the Viera/Suntree area and beyond are in the process of hiring less-expensive armed security guards and have until next spring to get them in place, according to Brevard County School District officials.

“With the recent school shootings and the uneasiness of parents about protection of our children, we thought it prudent to enter into an agreement with the professionals who not only know the law but have a great deal of experience with enforcement and safety,” Jordan added.

In a press release that aired on all local television news stations, Sheriff Wayne Ivey commended VCS officials in contacting him immediately after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland to start the process. VCS is the only charter school to contract with BCSO.

VCS was initially offered the option of having armed volunteers assigned for school protection, but declined. VCS Principal Dr. Julie Cady told this to faculty at a recent staff meeting and was greeted with applause and relief that they would not possibly be tasked with security on top of their other duties.

“We have been told a number of times that we have one of the safest schools in the district,” Cady said, “but we also know that those safety procedures will be better enhanced by the addition of a law enforcement officer who is well trained and trusted to do the right thing to keep our children safe each day.”

The high safety rating starts with the design of the school, said District 4 School Board member Matt Susin,

“From day one, Viera Charter has always put the safety of their students first with their implementation of the single-point entry system and enhanced security initiatives that were implemented with the design of the school,” Susin said.

All exterior and interior areas of the school are under surveillance video, and the front office entry point is additionally recorded for sound. More cameras and additional fencing are being added. The move for additional security underscores that commitment, Susin added.

“I am proud of Sheriff Ivey and Dr. Cady for ensuring the safety of our students,” Susin said.

This new contract marks a new era in School Resource Officers, Ivey said.

“The school will be getting a fit, tested, weapons-trained individual who is specifically trained in what to do in the event of a school shooter,” Ivey said. “And you'll also get the aspect that is wonderful for children as they grow, bringing in the blood hounds, the bomb squad, and all the great things children love to see that also lets them know that law enforcement is there to help them.”

Additionally, the SRO will work with school administrators in planning procedures in the event

of a crisis, oversee the parking lot areas each morning and afternoon to monitor incoming and outgoing traffic, and work with faculty and staff in presenting programs to students relating to law enforcement and judicial procedures.

With the agreement signed, VCS will have an opportunity to screen and select the SRO in July.

Ivey lightened up the serious topic of school shootings when he also underscored the safety measures employed by VCS.

“The most dangerous situation on this campus occurred five years when I picked the names from the lottery of the students who would get to go to the brand new Viera Charter School,” Ivey said. “I think I lost a lot of votes that year from families who didn't get picked.”

VCS, which specializes in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Science (STEAM) Education, is a privately-run charter school that uses public school funds to provide school choice. For more information on tuition-free enrollment or to schedule a school tour, call 321-541-1434.