Boca Students Lead Discussion On School Safety

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Staff report

Nearly 50 student government and leadership members from Boca Raton middle and high schools met recently to share their concerns about school safety with the Boca Raton Community Advisory Panel (CAP).

The panel, a volunteer committee appointed by the Boca Raton City Council, holds meetings and town hall style forums to gather input from residents about quality of life issues in Boca Raton.

At the request of the City Council, and in response to the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the panel reached out to Boca middle and high schools and invited students to this special forum.

“The idea was to let the students talk and share their concerns, ideas and solutions about school safety,” CAP Chairman Eric Gooden said. “Adults have done a lot of talking, and our City Council wanted to hear from the students. They are residents of the City and should have their voices heard.”

The Panel reached out to principals at Boca High, Spanish River, Boca Middle, Omni and Don Estridge Middle schools and invited student government representatives to join the conversation. Each school sent about 10 students to the Downtown Library to participate in the round table discussions.

Common themes included lack of consistency in following safety rules, lack of enforcement, student identification and concerns about the infrastructure and safety designs of the schools. Other topics including mental health, bullying and overcrowding were all cited as safety issues as well.

Representatives from the Boca Raton Police Department and the Palm Beach County School District Police Department were also on site to talk with students about their concerns and experiences.

CAP will create a report and present the findings to the City Council at a future meeting.