CHARLOTTE COUNTY- Following the shooting in Parkland, Charlotte County schools reviewed their student safety plan with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and the Punta Gorda Police Department, reassuring parents they are doing everything they can to keep students safe.


Charlotte County School Officials say safety is the district’s top priority and security audits are conducted annually to look at the needs of each school.


“For the past 10 years probably,” Michael Riley said. “I say it used to be reading, writing and arithmetic were the most important things for our children, today their safety and well-bring of the students and the staff is the most important thing that we focus on.”


Community Liaison Michael Riley says after Hurricane Charley they needed to harden the schools for weather, at the same time they hardened them for student safety.


“All of our schools have one way in and many many ways out,” Riley said. “Our outside doors do not have handles, so someone can’t come in from the back, we have fencing around all of our schools and we have security cameras.”


All school employees have ID badges, a buzzer system verifies visitors’ identities on campus, and students run emergency drills a few times a year. Every elementary, middle, and high school already has a full-time school resource officer providing more than just security at the schools.


“In many cases that’s a child’s first interaction with law enforcement,” Riley said. “They are mentors, they are teachers, they do a great job for us, and our working relationship with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and the Punta Gorda Police Department is amazing.”


Riley says they want to put additional state funding toward more mental health professionals in the district.


“We feel that if we can reach the children through mental health services at an early age,” Riley said. “That if we can have a couple of guidance counselors, social workers at every school that that can help alleviate, maybe we can recognize and get help from someone who may need it.”


The School Safety plan will continue to be updated every year.


Charlotte County Schools say families can help by talking to their children about school safety and monitoring student’s social media activity. The District has the full safety message on their website.