Re: Give students the means to defend themselvesby Anonymous
Fair USE ACT FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY
The Clarke County School District is considering a new policy that would allow high school security supervisors to carry guns on campus.
Under state law, certified school security personnel can carry weapons for law enforcement if authorized by a local board of education.
A spate of violence at schools across the United States in the past month prompted Clarke County School District officials to consider the policy, said Jim Simms, executive director of district services. School shootings across the U.S. have left several students dead, including five girls who were killed in their one-room Amish school in Pennsylvania.
School resource officers, or uniformed police officers assigned to the district's middle and high schools, already carry weapons, as does Frank Platt, the district's security director and a retired Athens-Clarke County police lieutenant. Platt, who oversees the seven SROs and two supervisors, maintains his officer certification, which allows him to carry a weapon.
Under the proposed policy change recommended Monday by the Clarke County Board of Education's Policy Committee, campus security supervisors - certified officers who wear plain clothes while working at schools - also would be authorized to carry weapons.
"Those kids know (supervisors) as well as any administrator," Platt said. "They work hand in hand with the principal with security plans. They work hand in hand with SROs.
"They could be considered an SRO in the way that they operate," he said.
The school system already has seven uniformed school resource officers who monitor middle and high schools, six of which are from the Athens-Clarke Police Department; one is a Clarke County sheriff's deputy. The district spends more than $250,000 a year for SROs and would keep them even if the proposed policy is approved, Platt said.
Allowing supervisors to carry guns would most benefit high schools, which are the district's largest campuses, Simms said.
The proposed policy also seeks to establish an official district police department, though the school system's security department already is a policing agency, Platt said. More than seven years ago, the district got state certification to establish the department as a policing agency that may conduct background checks on job applicants.
Within the proposed police department, Platt would become the district's chief of police and high school security supervisors would become chiefs of campus security.
"We've had a police department for a while," said Simms. "This simply formalizes it."
The proposed policy also would create a new assistant chief of police.
School systems across the state have agreements with local police to provide SROs to boost on-campus security, according to Laura Reilly, a spokeswoman for the Georgia School Boards Association.
Several Northeast Georgia school systems use SROs, including Jefferson City Schools, Commerce City Schools, Barrow County Schools and the Jackson County School System, while the Madison County and Oglethorpe County school systems do not employ resource officers.
The Clarke County Board of Education's policy committee on Monday recommended the full school board consider the security measures at the monthly agenda-setting meeting on Thursday.
If approved during the agenda-setting meeting, the full board could vote to place the policy on the table for a month to give residents a chance to comment on it. The board could consider whether to adopt the policy in December.
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