TAMAQUA, Pennsylvania (AP) – Parents will appeal to a court to prevent a Pennsylvania school district from allowing teachers to carry firearms to school. mass shooters.
Tamaqua District, a coal-mining area approximately 145 kilometers from Philadelphia, serves more than 2,100 students in three schools and would be the first school system in Pennsylvania to allow teachers to carry weapons.
Members of the Tamaqua School Board "endangered their community" when they approved a "clearly illegal" policy of giving weapons to teachers and other school employees, according to a lawsuit filed by three parents and one grandparent.
"The role of a teacher is to teach," said Friday Koscak, one of the plaintiffs, at a press conference. "We should not entrust these extra roles to a teacher when it is out of their reach." She said her daughter, a sophomore, is "very anxious" to see armed teachers at school.
The teachers' union had already started legal action to cancel the policy.
Teachers are allowed to carry weapons in several states, including Texas, Missouri, and Ohio, and several other states are considering similar measures as a result of the massacre at the Parkland School in Florida. last February.
The National Education Association, the country's largest teachers' union, said its members "overwhelmingly rejected" proposals that they would be armed at school. Using the hashtag "ArmMeWith", some teachers turned to Twitter to express their opposition.
In Florida, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Mass Crime Investigation Committee has recommended that volunteer and thorough background and training teachers be allowed to carry firearms. hidden on campus. The State Teachers' Union and the PTA oppose it.
In Lee County, Virginia, a school district is trying to convince skeptical officials to allow it to become the first county in the state to arm teachers and staff. The district said it could not afford to hire more than a few resource officers to protect 11 schools.
Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resources Managers, said law enforcement officers would probably be better trained to deal with situations in which they might have to shoot or search for a student. a shooter. But he added that districts that do not have the money for a school resource officer face a difficult choice.
"I realize that there are poor rural districts all over the country," said Canady, citing schools that can not afford a resource agent without the help of the federal government or the government. l & # 39; State. "I do not know if I'm able to say, well, you should not have anyone armed."
In Tamaqua, the firearms policy approved in September indicates that teachers and other employees can volunteer to carry concealed firearms provided by the district after training. The policy also establishes guidelines for the use of force.
"The reason for being in politics is to prevent the apocalypse," said Nicholas Boyle, a school board member. "When we have a shooter in the building, how are we going to stop this shooter from killing more and more people? We need to have an armed presence there."
Citing operational security, the district will not say if an armed force is already present in schools. But Boyle said that "litigation does not end politics". He added that the number of volunteers enrolled in maneuver training had exceeded his target of at least a dozen.
Education officials in Pennsylvania said they did not know of any other district with a policy of arming teachers. Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, is opposed to this idea.
"The Wolf administration maintained that school districts could not authorize police officers and school resources trained to carry guns around students in our schools, if school professionals needed them. "said Education Department spokeswoman Nicole Reigelman.
Boyle said the district had not yet received any backtracking of the state.
Associate Press Writer Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, NY, contributed to this story.