Parents take stand against school's decision to allow armed staff

Some parents against arming teachers

MADISON TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - One school district's decision to allow staff members to voluntarily be armed is not sitting well with everyone as a group of parents are taking a clear stand against the idea.

The Madison school board approved a resolution in April that allows faculty members to, by choice, carry weapons on school property.

Rachel Bloomekatz, a Columbus attorney, is helping non-profit Everytown for Gun Safety and Madison Local Schools parents vocalize concerns about the decision.

"As a parent, this is something that worries me," Bloomekatz said. "(The parents I represent) just don't think that arming teachers is the best way to keep our kids safe."

Supporters of the school board's decision, from Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones to a slew of parents on social media, have said they believe it's a good move because it's a way for teachers and other faculty members to adequately defend and protect students. However, Bloomekatz and those she represents are taking a different stance. They believe added guns means added risks.

"We need to think about whether we can prevent accidental discharges, thefts, teachers wrongly identifying someone as a threat," Bloomekatz said.

Madison families have been through gun violence before. A 14-year-old opened fire at the high school, shooting two students, in 2016.

Leaders of Everytown for Gun Safety penned a letter to school board members that included thoughts from a Madison parent. It urged the board to put the idea on hold until there is more public discussion.

"Before rushing to put guns in our school, we really need to have a deliberative discussion based on research and experts," Bloomekatz said.

On Wednesday, the school district made a post on Facebook announcing the board will be hosting a public forum on Friday night to discuss the resolution.

"Great step in the right direction, and we really hope that they'll be meaningful and substantive discussions," Bloomekatz said.

Parents who did not want to go on camera did express off camera to FOX19 NOW their reasons for their beliefs. One mother said she believes giving staff members the potential to be armed could deter gun violence. Another parent said he doesn't think bringing in more guns will stop gun violence.

The schools released the following statement on Thursday:

The information released by the district regarding Friday's meeting is as follows:

"The Madison Local School District Board of Education passed a Resolution allowing certain qualified staff members to carry concealed firearms in accordance with Ohio law.  This Resolution gives the authority, under Ohio law, to establish a Firearm Authorization Policy as part of its School Safety Plan.  The Board is now considering adopting such aFirearm Authorization Policy at its upcoming Board meeting on July 16, 2018. The purpose of these actions is to safeguard our students and staff in the event of an active shooter situation.  Our highest priority is the safety of every child in our community.  We believe this to be a necessary step to protect our students and to ensure an effective and timely response to emergency situations at school.  The Board does not take these decisions lightly.  It consulted with school safety experts and believes these steps will better protect our students.

PUBLIC FORUM

Pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 121.22(F), notice is hereby given that on Friday, July 13, 2018, the Board of Education of the Madison Local School District, Butler County, Ohio, shall hold a special meeting for the purpose of providing a public forum for discussing the Board's firearms authorization policy and related issues.

WHAT: Special Meeting of the Board of Education
DATE: Friday,
July, 13, 2018
TIME: 5:30 p.m. – Executive Session 6:00 p.m. (approximately) – Public Comment
WHERE: High School Media Center

PURPOSE: Executive Session: For the consideration of details relative to the security arrangements and emergency response protocols for a public body or a public office, because disclosure of the matters discussed could reasonably be expected to jeopardize the security of the public body or public office. (Ohio Rev. Code 121.22(G)(6))

Public Comment Session for discussing the Board's firearms authorization policy and related issues.
The public comment session shall commence immediately following the executive session. The public comment session will conclude at approximately 8:00 p.m.

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