Deadline coming fast for Polk Schools to hire 'armed guardians'

BARTOW, Fla. — Time is ticking for the Polk County School District, as they prepare to qualify, hire and train 90 armed guards to keep children safe.

It’s an unprecedented plan in order to combat school shooters.

Polk County is the first district in Florida to institute the program and allow trained guards to carry weapons on campus.

‘School Safety Guardians': Polk schools hiring 90 whose main job is stopping active shooters

Many of the hired guards will likely be placed in elementary schools, while School Resource Officers will remain in the middle and high schools.

“We don’t want to repeat of what happened in Parkland, especially not here in Polk County,” Teddra Porteous, an HR Director with Polk Schools said. She says it will be a monumental task to staff 90 guards in the schools by August, but she is confident her team can complete the task.

Since the job posting Thursday, more than 200 people have applied to the positions, which will pay $30,000 per year plus benefits. The plan to get the applicants qualified and into training, are still in the works, as this is the first time ever a school district has had to hire people for their security backgrounds rather than their educational training. 

“We are in the business of education. So we hire educators, this is really our first time hiring a person who has a firearm on our campus,” Porteous said. 

According to the Polk County Sheriff, Grady Judd, the school will have to look through hundreds of applicants in just a few short weeks in order to find enough people to even enter training. The sheriff claims many people likely won’t make it through the first round of background checks.

Once applicants make it past the background check, they will then complete psychological testing, drug tests and finally training.

“They are probably going to have to find 300 or 400 in order to find 90 that successfully pass all of that,” Sheriff Grady Judd said.

But with a 50% pass rate, Judd says the schools will have to come up with more than 100 qualified applicants and provide those people to his training course no later than July 1, in order to get the armed guards into schools by August.

“If we put 90 in the chair that will pass the background and psychologicals and drug screens, 90 won’t finish,” he said.

Applications will be taken through next Friday, May 4.

Apply here. 

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