Some parents are pushing back against a New Jersey school district’s plan to place armed security guards in its elementary schools, WLNY-TV reported.
Is this a new concept?
The Bloomfield School District already has armed guards at its middle and high schools. But some parents are protesting because they are worried about having firearms in elementary schools. They also say the price tag is too high — more than $500,000, according to the report.
The district's plan is one way schools across the nation are grappling with demands to increase safety in light of recent violence and mass killings.
“My kids are aware of guns, they know they’re not safe but they know that police officers should have them,” parent Noel Gatts told the TV station. “But to see them on a daily basis at their school is alarming at least to my children.”
In response, Gatts formed Bloomfield Families for Sensible Safety. About 200 parents have signed an online petition against the school board’s plan.
“While I realize these are professionals, accidents can happen,” parent Laurie Orosz said.
Parent Leah Warner agreed. “No research has been found to demonstrate armed guards specifically help against school shootings,” she told WLNY. “There is no research out there.”
Parents began protesting after classified ads appeared over the weekend for what are known as Class-3 officers. One officer would be placed at each of the district’s eight elementary schools and preschool.
State law requires that the officers must have retired within the last three years. They are also required to wear a uniform.
Supporters of the plan believe it could prevent violence. Superintendent Salvatore Goncalves maintains that hiring the guards will not hurt other programs.
“This is not about turning schools into prisons,” Goncalves said. “We understand the importance of developing the culture within a school to be a friendly place, to be a safe place.”
What happens next?
A final decision is expected within the next four to six weeks, Goncalves told the TV station. On June 5, the school district is hold a public forum to allow parents to air their concerns.