After five months of meeting, the Orange County's Schools Safety Task Force presented their final report to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners during its Sept. 19 meeting. The task force was approved in late 2022 to enhance student safety in the county's two school districts.
"We need to support the schools in the situation where students aren't feeling safe," Jean Hamilton, a BOCC member said.
She said Orange County Schools dealt with a lot of protests during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, in 2021, a group of Proud Boys, a right-wing extremist organization that promotes white nationalism, protested outside of Orange High School during a football game in response to COVID-19 mask mandates and other safety precautions put in place by Orange County Schools.
Cassie Rice, a member of the task force, said she thinks the task force was established because of the protests at the football game and at school board meetings.
Alongside those concerns, she said she worries for her children's safety while they are at school.
"As a mom of kids going to school, I am scared that that's going to be the last time that I see them," Rice said.
The main goals of the task force are to recommend new policies to the BOCC that address external threats and promote school safety for students and staff.
After the BOCC approved its formation at a board meeting in November 2022, the task force met six times between February and June of this year. At the meetings, they discussed protests, demonstrations, active assailant situations and public access to school property during school hours.
There are about 20 members of the task force, and they plan to meet annually in the future, Hamilton said.