By: Jen Russon
Bo Landy has been hyper-focused on improving school security within his own community and hopes his nonprofit, SOS Parkland, can help other cities do what his city has: a pilot program for any institution of learning that could benefit from improvements to all aspects of physical security.
Landy, owner of Landy Marketing in Coconut Creek, said that he formed SOS Parkland – which stands for “Secure Our Schools” after the school shooting massacre that killed 17 and injured 17 others.
His wish list for the nonprofit includes better trained security personnel, metal detectors, cameras, state-of-the-art lockdown systems and staffed hotlines.
“One of our huge goals, from day one, was to bring in professional school security assessors to advise on what is needed for meaningful school security. We worked with the district on this and now all 231 schools have been assessed,” Landy said.
He was not able to comment on the assessor’s recommendations for Broward County schools, or when they will finish making their reports; this information is not available to the public.
“The reports will never be made public because releasing that information would, itself, present a security vulnerability,” Landy said.
That subject closed, he fielded questions that potential members might have before deciding to join his nonprofit, such as: How much money does he hope to raise.
Landy said no amount is too much because the more SOS raises, the better the security and the safer students and educators will be. He stressed the importance of understanding that SOS Parkland is not simply putting on a fundraiser for a single project or product, but rather is working for continuous improvements in school security.
“I would acknowledge that some people may be skeptical about whether or not we will be able to get the enhanced security measures that we are working for, implemented. If they are comfortable with what we are working toward and where we are at, I would encourage them to donate and spread the word to their friends and neighbors,” Landy said.
One of SOS Parkland’s active members said that SOS is like the Red Cross – where donations are given without an end goal. If you can donate, then donate. It doesn’t have to be comfortable.
Landy and his board of directors, who include Noel Glacer, Loren Valentine and Joanna Goriss, have determined that if every parent in Broward County donated $5 per student per week toward school security, it would amount to over $70 million per year.
He indicated that if Broward County residents outside of Parkland want to do what he is doing in their public schools, it is a complicated matter that hinges on setting up a 501(c)(3). After that, it is up to the new nonprofit to find the kind of grassroots support that leads to individual and corporate donations.
“I was just talking to a Coral Springs parent, about how she could form an SOS for her city,” said Landy. During that conversation, he tried to make it clear that security improvements don’t have to be district-wide to happen at all.
Lady concluded that his nonprofit is committed to making meaningful school security improvements. “Ballistic protection is a part of it, but I am not saying every school in Broward should do this because they all have different concerns and needs. I am not in a position to state what they should do.”
An SOS Parkland Inc. fundraising event is scheduled at the Monster Golf in Coral Springs on August 1. Go to SOS Parkland to learn more.
Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.