District 51 safety group wrestles with question of armed personnel

Members of the District 51 School Security and Safety Work Group did not reach a consensus Monday on whether to suggest the school board allow teachers, administrators or volunteers to have guns in schools.

The group split into three small groups at their second-to-last meeting to discuss having an armed presence in local public schools. While each sub-group remained divided on the questions of whether and how to incorporate armed adults in local public schools, they could agree those people need to meet guidelines if they are allowed to bring weapons into schools.

Suggestions for whatever solution may be chosen that involves armed people included maintaining standards for training volunteers or staff, determining ahead of a program’s start how the district will decide if it is successful and beneficial, and making volunteers or staff go through physical and/or psychological exams to make sure they are physically, mentally and emotionally fit to carry a concealed weapon on school grounds.

Group member Tim Casey, a Colorado Mesa University professor, said his small group decided a uniform safety policy was as unlikely to get a consensus from the work group as it was to get a consensus from all District 51 schools. His group suggested the district and/or schools check with staff and parents to make sure they are comfortable with whatever proposal they decide to adopt before implementing it.

“No two schools are the same,” he said.

Central High teacher and work group member Rick Peterson said his group had split votes on the topics of allowing teachers or administrators to carry a concealed gun, which prevented them from erasing or promoting either idea.

“We were looking for consensus and unfortunately, or fortunately, we didn’t find it,” he said.

The working group is scheduled to receive a draft copy by the end of the day Friday of the presentation group members will make March 19 to the District 51 School Board. The presentation will include suggestions from the group about school safety, including Monday’s topics and topics covered by the group last week: violence prevention through counseling and other measures and installing physical barriers to violence such as keyless locks and panic buttons. The group will go over the draft at its final meeting Monday.


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