RTM dismisses idea to arm district staff
MIDDLETOWN » The Rose Tree Media School Board is not in favor of having its staff armed as a way to keep their schools safe.
A resolution was passed by the board on April 26 by a 6-1 vote that does not support any proposals to arm educators, or other employees and promoting legislation at the state and federal levels that protect students and staff from gun violence. Board President Jeffrey Koenig and Director Robert Kelly were not present to vote on the resolution. Director James Cunningham was the sole dissenter.
“The board believes that arming teachers or other school employees creates another kind of safety issue in that this also could create an issue for first responders who might have a difficult time distinguishing a perpetrator from a school employee,” read a portion of the resolution.
The resolution later added, “It is hereby resolved that the Rose Tree Media School Board does not support any proposals to arm educators or other school employees, and instead will focus on safety and security improvements as well as asking legislators for more support of our efforts in this regard, including support to help us address the mental health needs of our young people and will ask legislators for their support in passing laws to those in (a previous paragraph in the resolution) that seek to reduce gun violence.
The passage of laws the approved resolution suggests include implementation of universal background checks, banning bump stocks, raising the age to purchase a gun to 21, banning assault weapons and prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines.
More funding for student mental health services and security improvement that “don’t infringe upon the primary focus of education students in a warm and welcoming environment” was also included in approve resolution.
Koenig wrote in a Friday afternoon email the board had met with concerned students and community members on two separate occasions before adoption of the resolution.
“No one expressed that arming teachers or our staff would make the students safer and some were concerned that arming teachers could create other problem,” he said. The district will be undergoing an assessment of their facilities to field recommendations on how to make schools safer.
Resident Linda Ciavarelli applauded the school board for taking a stand to not arm district employees.
“The school board is stepping forward to advocate for common sense gun reform, and I applaud them for it,” she said Friday. “I know that they are working hard to do all they can to ensure the safety of RTMSD students, and this is one part of that effort.”
Penncrest senior Jordyn Kaplan said the board has “fulfilled its responsibility to advocate for the families and residents” of the district by passing the resolution.
“I’m proud to be a part of a district that will publicly state that guns don’t belong in our schools or in the hands of our teachers,” she said Saturday. “Adding metal detectors or having armed guards is not the way to make schools safer; the focus should be on cultivating an inclusive, supportive environment in which students can learn and grow. While improving emotional and social support will make our schools safer, the real solution is preventing people from obtaining assault weapons in the first place.”