Parents sue over Pennsylvania district’s policy to arm teachers
TAMAQUA, Pa. — Parents are going to court to block a Pennsylvania school district from allowing teachers to carry guns in school, the latest flashpoint in a debate playing out in many states over whether it’s wise to arm educators to protect students from mass shooters.
The district in Tamaqua, a coal-mining region about 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Philadelphia, serves more than 2,100 students in three schools and is believed to be the first school system in Pennsylvania to let teachers carry weapons.
Tamaqua school board members “endangered their community” when they approved a “manifestly illegal” policy to give weapons to teachers and other school employees, according to a lawsuit filed by three parents and a grandparent.
“A teacher’s role is to teach,” Holly Koscak, one of the plaintiffs, said Friday at a news conference. “We should not be putting those extra roles on a teacher when it’s out of their scope.” She said her daughter, a sophomore, is “very anxious” about having armed teachers in school.
The teachers union had already filed suit to overturn the policy.
Teachers are allowed to carry weapons in several states, including Texas, Missouri and Ohio, and a number of other states are considering similar measures in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school massacre last February.
In Florida, the panel investigating the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School recommended that teachers who volunteer and undergo extensive background checks and training be allowed to carry concealed guns on campus. The state teachers union and PTA oppose it.
In Tamaqua, the firearms policy approved in September says that teachers and other employees can volunteer to carry concealed, district-issued guns after training. The policy also establishes guidelines for the use of force.
“The rationale for the policy is to prevent the apocalypse,” school board member Nicholas Boyle said. “When we have a shooter in the building, how are we going to stop that shooter from killing more and more and more people? We have to have an armed presence there.”