Schooled Reporting on education

Educating while armed

Education | Florida joins other states in expanding weapons training for teachers
by Laura Edghill
Posted 5/08/19, 04:36 pm

Florida last week became the latest state to allow more teachers to carry guns in their schools. A bill passed Saturday by the state legislature expands the existing school guardian program that was enacted after the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, in which 17 people died. Originally, only teachers who also served in an auxiliary role such as a coach were eligible for the police-style guardian training. The new bill removes the added role requirement, opening the door for thousands of additional teachers to become certified.

“It allows the good guys to stop the bad. The bad guys will never know when the good guys are there to shoot back,” said Rep. Chuck Brannan, a Republican who is also a retired law enforcement officer. “The guardian is the last line of defense. He or she will be there when a police officer is not.”

A majority of states already allow at least some school staff members besides security guards to carry guns at work, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In most cases, permission from a building or district official is required, while many states require teachers with guns to receive special training, a concealed carry permit, or both.

Florida’s new law is part of a national push to fund gun training specifically geared toward teachers. The state allocates more than $50 million to local law enforcement to support the school guardian program—money critics say would be better spent on teacher pay and other educational needs. Teachers unions in Florida strongly opposed the bill, and some school boards have already voted in the last year against joining the voluntary program. Gregory Tony, the newly appointed sheriff of Broward County, where the Parkland shooting took place, also expressed opposition to arming teachers at any level.

“This program would place students, teachers, and first responders at risk, when our focus should be on keeping our children safe and making schools places where students feel they belong,” he wrote in a letter to the Broward County School Board. “Teachers enter that profession to educate children, not to serve as school security.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, recently appointed Tony after the county’s former sheriff, Scott Israel, was suspended related to concerns over his handling of the Parkland shooting.

The Florida legislation contains several other important school safety provisions, including wider disclosure of certain student mental health records, mental screening of troubled students, increased reporting of school safety and student discipline incidents, and a requirement that law enforcement officials be consulted about any threats.

DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law.

Associated Press Associated Press Students hang a banner April 29 in protest near the Delta Upsilon fraternity house at Swarthmore College.

Expelled

The only two fraternities at Swarthmore College, a private liberal arts school in suburban Philadelphia, will close in response to accusations of racist, misogynistic, and other sexually abusive behavior in hazing practices and fraternity life. Recent articles in two campus publications included leaked documents detailing a deeply troubling culture from 2010 to 2016 at the Delta Upsilon and Phi Psi houses. The documents included jokes about sexual assault; derogatory comments about women, minorities, and LGBT people; videos and photos of sexual encounters; and a reference to a “rape attic.”

A campus outcry ensued, including a four-day sit-in by several dozen students at the office of the college’s president. The protesters demanded both fraternities disband and asked the administration to turn the two houses into safe spaces for students instead.

Both fraternities defended their organizations, but ultimately the national Delta Upsilon and Phi Psi organizations voted to shutter their respective chapters at the school. Delta Upsilon’s chapter stated on its Facebook page that members unanimously decided “disbanding our fraternity is in the best interest of the Swarthmore community.”

With the two closures, the liberal arts college joins a growing list of schools where fraternities have closed in recent years in response to student deaths, injuries, and complaints related to extreme hazing practices and other problematic behavior. —L.E.

Associated Press/Photo by Alex Brandon Associated Press/Photo by Alex Brandon Pat Sajak

Off-camera duties

Longtime Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak is set to take over as chairman of the board of trustees for Hillsdale College in Michigan. Sajak has served as vice chairman of the private Christian school’s board for 15 years already, though he did not attend the school himself. College President Larry Arnn said Sajak has “calm and steady judgment” and a “wicked wit.”

Founded in 1844 by a group of Free Will Baptists, Hillsdale does not accept federal or state funding in order to maintain independence from government regulations. —L.E.

Laura Edghill

Laura Edghill is a freelance writer, church communications director, and public school board member living in Clinton Township, Mich., with her engineer husband and three sons. She is a graduate of the WORLD Journalism Institute's mid-career course. Follow Laura on Twitter @LTEdghill.

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Comments

  • Hans's picture
    Hans
    Posted: Thu, 05/09/2019 11:07 am

    Hillsdale is not a "Christian school;" it is non-affiliated, and embraces broadly defined [conservative] "Judeo-Christian values" as its moral heritage.

  • news2me
    Posted: Fri, 05/10/2019 07:48 pm

    I am a little concerned about teachers carrying guns. They could use it to intimidate students. Or it might unintentionally intimidate students. Also, some students might make a teacher "lose it" at some point. 

    There must be other ways of maintaining a safe campus. Some schools use badges to locate students. A metal detector would be good. But it should set off more alarms than just the entrance. The person maintaining the gate should be in an enclosed booth so a person could not take them out when detected.

    I'm sure they have come up with other ideas rather than allowing a teacher to carry. There is the possibility of a teacher being disarmed when a student disables them and takes their weapon.

  • OldMike
    Posted: Sat, 05/11/2019 05:36 am

    There are certainly teachers who should not have the responsibility of carrying a firearm. (There are police officers who should not have a firearm, for that matter.)

    However, I believe we will very rarely see a confrontation between an armed teacher and a school shooter. Knowing they could encounter several armed persons, I believe those who might plan a school shooting will instead look for a school known to have rejected the arming of teachers. 

  • Slats
    Posted: Fri, 05/10/2019 10:35 pm

    To News2Me,

    The reasons you stated are why the teachers are trained, licensed, registered, and maintain currency.  It's the untrained carriers and unlicensed shooters you should worry about.

  • JimVC
    Posted: Sat, 05/11/2019 04:29 pm

    In the Swarthmore picture, that appears to be the Delta Upsilon house, not Phi Psi. Check the Greek letters to the right of the banner.

  • Web Editor
    Posted: Mon, 05/13/2019 10:21 am

    Thank you for pointing out the error. It has been corrected.

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