District 220 urged to reject idea of permitting armed teachers

Resolution will be voted on by state association of school boards

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America members and a former CNN correspondent called on Barrington Area Unit District 220 to oppose the idea of letting local school boards decide whether to permit armed teachers or other staff members.

District 220 board members Tuesday night set aside special public comment time on two security-related resolutions that'll be up for discussion and a vote by the Illinois Association of School Boards during its annual convention Nov. 23 in Chicago.

School boards from across the state belong to the association. District 220 and other boards will decide in advance how the convention delegates should vote on the resolutions.

Under the controversial resolution from Mercer County School District 404 in downstate Aledo, the association would encourage state legislation allowing individual school boards to decide whether to permit armed staff members in their districts.

District 220 resident Dan Juffernbruch was alone in asking the elected officials to support the proposal. He said District 220 should not tell other school systems what to do.

"There are sensible ways to implement this in a school system," Juffernbruch said. "Nobody wants a gun in a school, but if a bad guy has a gun, you're better off with a good guy with a gun."

But the rest of the speakers asked District 220 to vote against the armed-employee proposal at the school board convention. Retired Barrington High School teacher John Anderson, wearing a red Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America T-shirt, said he could not have imagined carrying a weapon into a classroom.

"I think there's been a lot of studies done where guns in the school is a danger," said Anderson, who taught at Barrington High from 1978 to 2009. "There's a possibility of them falling into the wrong hands."

Former CNN correspondent Brian Jenkins told the school board that he covered the mass shooting at a McDonald's in San Diego in 1984. He said arming teachers and other staff in schools won't make them safer.

"My experience has shown me that people who are not - even people who are fully trained - they make mistakes," Jenkins said.

Last year, convention delegates representing the state's school boards rejected a similar resolution by a 203-179 vote.

District 220 voted for it, with officials saying that giving districts local control - not a desire for armed teachers in their schools - explained their vote.

Even if supported by the association, the state legislature and Gov. J.B. Pritzker would have to back the measures for them to become law. Proponents say the plan to have armed employees in schools would help rural districts, where it can take longer for police to respond to an emergency. They also say districts would not be forced to have armed workers.

Speakers at Tuesday's meeting also asked District 220 to reject a proposal that the school board association lobby lawmakers to create and fund a statewide grant program to help districts hire school resource officers or other armed security.

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