PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – Since February 14, members of the Guardian Angels have been patrolling the perimeter of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and West Glades Middle School in Parkland.
For many, the Guardian Angels have been a source of comfort, trust and security — a reassuring physical presence on campus after last February’s deadly shooting.
But as of next Friday, according to David “Cobra” Clemente, the last Guardian Angel walking the grounds outside the school, the Guardian Angels will be gone.
Cobra has voluntarily watched the gates, kept his eyes and ears open for trouble and pledged to protect those inside the schools since February 14.
He’s worked from awn to dusk many days, he says, to be there for the students, parents, teachers and staff.
“I gave the parents my word that I would do anything and everything to keep they kids safe and keep they kids alive,” Cobra said.
But Cobra courted controversy last week with a Facebook post. The post reads in part, “there is a big drug problem at Douglas high school. Drugs are being taken and drugs are being sold inside of the school.”
Cobra said students brought the problem to his attention.
“I had been contacted by some students that I met with with their parents, with tears in their eyes, telling me that there was problem in Douglas Stoneman High School (sic) with drugs and they witnessed it theyself,” he said.
Cobra said he told the school security staff and administrators about the drug problem last school year.
He said he saw little being done, so he decided to inform the community so that parents could address the issue with their children.
But 5 days after the post, Cobra said MSD Principal Ty Thompson spoke to him.
“[He informed] the Guardian Angels that their services were no longer needed at the high school, this is right after the post,” he said.
The decision is sparking outrage among a large number of parents in the MSD community, like Amy Moret, whose son attends Stoneman Douglas.
She says Cobra has been a calming presence on campus and she can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want him here.
“In my personal opinion, he needs to be here,” she said. “He gives myself and my son a peace of mind when he’s here. I view him as the eyes and ears of the school.”
Max Schachter, whose son Alex died in the shootings, is also upset by Cobra’s removal.
He says Cobra’s departure sends exactly the wrong message to the MSD community.
“There is a double standard,” Schachter said. “The principal is telling the children, if you hear something or see something, say something. And that’s exactly what Cobra did and he’s getting fired for it.”
Schachter’s urged people to email the Stoneman Douglas principal and on Tuesday someone posted a petition on change.org for Cobra to remain.
Cobra says he’ll abide by the principal’s decision and he’s touched by the outpouring of support from the community.
“I am overwhelmed by the people and the love of this community,” Cobra said. “It makes me feel like I’m one of their own.”
CBS4 News reached out to the Broward County School District and requested information on Cobra’s dismissal.
A school district spokesperson did not address the Facebook post about drugs at the school or any ongoing issue with drugs on campus.
She only said that the principal spoke to Cobra about removing an encampment he had set up outside the school and that Cobra is not an employee of the school district.
CBS4 News also requested to speak with Principal Ty Thompson but our request was not addressed.