RTM dis­misses idea to arm district staff

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS - By Kevin Tustin ktustin@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Kev­inTustin on Twit­ter

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.”

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