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Mother of dead Parkland teacher questions Legislature’s transparency

When several amendments were filed on gun bills ahead of their hearings in the House and Senate budget committees on Tuesday, the mother of a teacher killed in the Parkland shooting said she felt misled by the Legislature.

Linda Beigel Schulman’s son Scott Beigel was among the 17 killed by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Beigel was a geography teacher and cross-country coach at the school.

In the wake of her son’s death, Schulman has been active at the state Capitol and invested in the school safety, gun and mental health proposals that are moving quickly through these last few days of the 2018 Session.

Schulman said on Wednesday that she believes that she and potentially other Parkland community members were misled on the proposals because they were not briefed on the dozens of amendments filed ahead of both chambers’ budget meetings.

“Amendments were added — which I think is not forthright,” Schulman said. She said the amendments changed the makeup of the bills, altering what MSD parents had been told earlier.

“I do not think that we understood all that we were saying ‘yes’ to,” Schulman said. “We were saying yes to what we understood and we were told.”

She said when she spoke to other MSD parents at a Capitol vigil last night, “they had no idea” what had been approved by each chamber’s budget committees.

“I feel like sometimes we are being used,” Schulman said.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that Democrats on budget committees had criticized Republicans for late filing so many amendments — but Democrats also had filed stricter gun control amendments that were destined for failure.

Schulman on Wednesday refrained from calling out a specific party.

“I want you to know I’m not here as a Democrat and I’m not here as a Republican,” Schulman said. She later added, “This is not anything political – I’m not going there.”

Schulman opined a bit about her woes with the legislative process, but with momentum building behind the concept of arming teachers, Schulman’s main talking point on Wednesday was her disapproval of the measure, recently dubbed the ‘marshal program‘. And as the mother of someone who had been hired at a Florida school, Schulman shared a unique perspective on the debate over whether training and arming volunteer teachers will be effective — or disastrous.

Schulman said that when her son was hired at the Broward County school he was asked if he could coach the cross-country team and he said yes. She said he likely would’ve said yes to anything because he “wanted the job.”

“It didn’t matter what they were going to ask him if he could do, he was going to say ‘yes, of course,” Schulman said. She added that her son did not know anything about cross-country at the time.

She anticipated the new teachers will similarly be pressured into going through the necessary training to carry a concealed firearm on campus.

“That’s problematic,” Schulman said. She also expects parents will eventually only want their children in classrooms with armed teachers, further complicating the problem.

Written By

Danny McAuliffe is a Tallahassee correspondent for Florida Politics. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as the editor of the FSView & Florida Flambeau. He is a lifelong Floridian and indulges in swimming, hiking, running and memes when the news cycle permits. Reach him at dmcauliffe500@gmail.com.

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