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Arming Teachers, Guards in Buildings? What are Your Thoughts?

Armed guard and teachers, metal detectors discussed at Avon school forum

A healthy number of parents turned out for the Feb. 5 meeting at Avon High School to discuss safety in Avon schools. The open forum gave those in attendance the opportunity to ask questions.

“Are we doing enough? Are we not doing enough,” Superintendent of Schools Michael Laub, asked. Laub, who has been superintendent for seven months said he realized immediately there were good safety procedure in place. He credited, in part, Principal Kristina Dobos-Buller with working with police about procedures.

Laub noted there were “a lot of different opinions on what is safety,” and the audience agrees.  

Audience suggestions included armed guards at the entryway of buildings, armed guards in schools and cameras.

“None of those ideas are horrible ideas,” he said. “Our goal no. 1, safety, is important to us.” 

After the Newtown incident he said he received correspondence from a number of community members about safety and decided to hold the forum. 

Laub said neither he, high school Principal Kristina Dobos-Buller, Avon Middle School Principal Craig Koehler or police personnel, including Chief Richard Bosley, were there to discuss safety plans.

“That’s not public information,” Laub said.

Dobos-Buller said police frequently do walk-throughs of the school when they are not patrolling the streets.

Police do walk-throughs all the time, Buller said.

“Our procedures change several times a year,” Buller said, noting that some procedures change after shootings such as Newtown and procedures are reviewed.

Children as “sitting ducks”

One parent asked about how wise it was having children sitting in the corner of a room for 5 minutes before a killer arrives, making them “sitting ducks.”

“Have barricading, fleeing been discussed?” the parent asked.

 “We’ve studied Columbine, Virginia Tech, and each time, said “how can we improve,” Dobos-Buller said. She said different scenarios have been discussed and just “sitting there” is no longer advised.

The Avon Lake School District has instituted the “ALICE” program throughout the district.

Laub said some people support ALICE and some don’t. ALICE stands for Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate and includes suggestions such as throwing items and distracting the shooter. The program has received mixed reviews.

Some parents supported a proactive approach if an intruder entered the school.

Laub said the district needed to be both proactive and reactive.

“The question we have is what level of proactive and reactive are we comfortable with?” Laub said. “There is nothing we can do that is going to be 100 percent proactive is someone (is determined) to do evil.”

Armed guard, bus safety

The idea of using armed guards and the safety of children on buses when the arrive were also brought up.

“People have said to me they want armed guards in the school and I asked them, ‘Do we put an armed guard on every bus?’” Laub said.

One parent supported having armed guards at the school and said she would support paying higher taxes for the additional safety.

Laub said safety plans should not be too restrictive, but restrictive enough to be safe.

“The most important part of school safety is knowing our kids,” Laub said, saying personal intervention is probably the biggest reason why some tragedies are avoided.

One area the schools have found instrumental in helping enforce safety is monitoring Twitter and Facebook accounts and urging students to advise an adult if someone is discussing harms or issuing threats on social media.

“We inspect lockers, look through notebooks go on Facebook, Twitter,” Dobos-Buller said.  “You don’t ignore that anymore.”

Other ideas discussed included metal detectors. An officer at the meeting said it had been talked about, but it could mean a delay entering the building, leaving students outside.

“Plus you would need (qualified) personnel,” Laub said. “We can’t ask our secretaries to do that,” Laub said.

The superintendent was hesitant about the concept of arming teachers.

“I’m not sure if I’m comfortable saying, ‘Let’s arm staff,’” Laub said.

Safety will be a focus of new middle school

With plans currently being submitted for the new middle school approved in November, Laub said it gives the district an opportunity to make sure safety is a focus.

“As we build a new middle school, will we be considering safety? Without a doubt,” Laub said saying police and fire departments will have input. Parents expressed concern over the current middle school which is overcrowding, noting that it’s easy for an intruder to slip inside.

“When we build a new middle school it will be larger with bigger hallways,” Laub said. An initial drawing included an all-glass media center. “We asked them to consider other options to that,” Laub said.

Laub will review comments and suggestions made at the forum for when the district formally reviews safety procedures.

What are you thoughts on safety in your school district? Add them in comments.

David February 11, 2013 at 12:29 PM
It is far better to have someone armed in our schools than to have to wait for the police to arrive while someone is already inside shooting. The gun ban signs are ridiculously ineffective and, frankly, ignorant. Properly trained personnel in schools would at least allow our children a better chance of survival.
Mark L Smith February 11, 2013 at 01:02 PM
I really hate to say this but unfortunately the world has come to this point! I believe we should have armed guards in all the schools and I am not against arming teachers either! Children are the future and we need to protect them no matter what the cost! This will anger some but I also believe we need to bring The Lord GOD Back To Schools! God Bless Us All!
M Flannery February 11, 2013 at 01:56 PM
It is a sad day when we even think of arming our teachers...is this what we as a Nation have come too? Guns in this Country are out of complete control...what in the world does anyone need a 100 drum round of ammo for, or a military type weapon, who in the world are we fighting off..Zombies! Maybe if we taught our children what horrible damage a bullet can actually do, how it destroys indiscriminately without regard, then maybe we can begin to tone down the insanity. Imagine armed guards at every school...the possibilites of accidental chaos seem endless. I suppose you could use tax payer funded police officiers to guard perimeters. Of course that would cost real money and create jobs, which seems to be where these so-called concerned parents draw the line. Look, my heart breaks for the families of Newtown, their loss is unimaginable just as the loss is felt daily by parents across the Country who lose their cherished babies to gun violence...and to Mr Churchgoer there..violence only begets violence...knowledge is the weapon we need to arm ourselves with. Maybe it is time we turn off "Dancing with has been stars" and read a book or watch something that requires a bit of thinking or teaches us something or makes us laugh. I hate guns but I understand that it is our Right and I do not wish for that to be taken away, but with Rights come responsibilites and we have become horrible ignorant of ours!
melissa carte February 11, 2013 at 06:06 PM
As a parent, I feel comfortable with one or two designated staff members to access firearms. However, the deeper issue lies with our emotionally wayward children. It does indeed take a community to raise a child. Our society is so very fast and broken now. It seems none of us have the time for one another, let alone needy kids in the community. This is creating much darkness that surrounds us. The longer any of us are permitted to believe a lie, the harder it is to reverse it. I am a huge fan of education... it never stops. How about more rallying to promote warning signs of depression. We all need to stay up on it. Talking more openly about it and brainstorming ways to affect change is always in order. Friends, teachers, parents, library staff, local businesses that serve our youth... we all possess the authority to speak up when we see signs. I wish it was encouraged more.
David Dibbell February 11, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Guns are not the answer to mental illness. Surely there are ways to identify, treat, monitor and even institutionalize, in extreme cases, those among us with mental problems. Putting guns in and around schools is akin to pouring gasoline on a fire you're trying to extinguish. What's to say that an armed school administer, teacher or guard can't have a bad day and snap. Contrary to the position espoused by the NRA, you really cannot always tell a good guy with a gun from a bad guy with a gun.
Kristen LePrevost February 11, 2013 at 06:32 PM
And how will struggling school systems pay for these new staff members and/or training? We'd obviously want highly trained people which doesn't come cheap.
Patch reader February 11, 2013 at 06:38 PM
I think this might be useful. Especially for those teachers who are uncomfortable with guns. New teachers join growing list of civilians trained to counter active shooters By Harlan Spector, The Plain Dealer February 02, 2013 "A new semester at Kent State University beckoned student teachers to a campus ballroom in January for training on how to resist an active shooter, a new chapter in teacher education. Kent State started the program three years ago, and is considering making it mandatory for student teachers. The training rejects the standard practice of locking doors, turning off lights and hiding from an armed intruder. Instead, it encourages would-be victims to run, barricade doors, break windows to escape and, if confronted, to throw objects and swarm the shooter. ALICE (alert-lockdown-inform-counter-evacuate) advocates say they don't recommend that younger children fight back. Hendry said in an interview kids younger than sixth-graders are not encouraged to attack, but to run and yell -- create commotion, but don't sit still." www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2013/02/new_teachers_join_growing_list.html
George Z February 11, 2013 at 06:47 PM
I think allowing teachers to be armed (& not knowing who is / isn't) could be a strong deterrent. I believe the airlines allow pilots to arm if they wish. The bad guys not knowing who can & who can't defend themselves can't hurt. It's sad that this is the real world, wish it weren't.
Kristen LePrevost February 11, 2013 at 06:50 PM
I definitely don't think teachers should be required to be trained or armed..my sister is a teacher and would NEVER do that..they have a guard in the school who should be the one who is armed.
Lori E. Switaj February 11, 2013 at 09:43 PM
Thanks readers, for continuing this important discussion in a civil manner. It's good to see both sides opinions expressed, and respected.
George Z February 11, 2013 at 09:54 PM
The person's choice, not an "assignment" from the board. If your sister was not comfortable with such an task, she wouldn't have to.
Bonnie Tallaksen February 12, 2013 at 02:46 AM
Can someone please think about the logistics here. Where are the guns going to be kept? In the office? In the classroom? Are we going to have gun safes in the classrooms? Where is the ammo going to be kept? Who's going to pay to train the teachers, buy the guns and the ammo. For god's sake, we can barely pass a levy in Avon Lake to pay for education, but we're going to put guns in the schools!
Victor Mooney February 12, 2013 at 06:02 AM
It `s great to hear sensible discussion. We are a free society, which carries risks. Their removal is impossible and attempts to do so would only erode our freedom , with no resulting safety. Rational solutions must be explored. No arming all teachers, not arming anyone who does not desire to be armed. But , I am sure that there are those who would and could be properly trained and only after close inspection, armed. Arms at the ready, loaded and available are the only way this can work. Lock boxes, unloaded weapons, separated ammo, all these cause unacceptable delay. Training is being offered free, the weapons should be owned by those carrying them. Do I like this idea? Not really, but please offer a viable alternitive, hand wringing, more gun laws, confiscation, are not sensible arguments. Intervention programs, learning to recognize and deal with problem individuals, would help---but for the moment--I feel this is the best solution.
Debbie February 12, 2013 at 01:04 PM
In my opinion, had Sandy Hook had an armed guard - that would have been the first person shot. Had the office personnel had access to a firearm, unbeknownst to the shooter, they may have been able to take him out when he started shooting through the entrance. I don't think the kids really need to know if guns are in the schools because then it becomes like a prision....this is really a complex situation and no right answer when lives have already been lost, I hate that it is such a big problem, but, I certainly want my children safe.
Nicole Davis February 12, 2013 at 04:37 PM
Not necessarily Debbie. Columbine had an armed guard and there was still a massacre at the school.

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