A resolution that called on state and federal lawmakers to pass gun control laws, curtail access to assault rifles and prohibit non-security employees from carrying guns on campuses, was shot down Tuesday night by the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board.
In fact, the board entertained a pair of resolutions addressing school safety and gun violence, but squabbled over the language of each and ultimately couldn’t come to consensus on anything except tabling the discussion for another day.
The resolutions came in the wake of the mass shooting that left 17 students and staff dead last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. It also came the night before students across TUSD were expected to join students across the country for walkouts and protests against school and gun violence.
Board member Kristel Foster, who proposed the original resolution which she crafted with the help of a teacher, said the public deserves to know where each of the board members stand on guns issues. That includes their stance on arming teachers as a response to school shootings, especially since TUSD Governing Board member Michael Hicks, like President Donald Trump, have called for arming teachers in the classroom.
“The resolution, the way we wrote it, said we stand with our students who are demonstrating in a matter of hours tomorrow. I’d like us to take a stand with them, with this vote, this evening,” she said.
But board members took issue with some of the language in her resolution - including lines mentioning regulation of “assault rifles” and whether employees can carry guns on campus.
So Foster offered up a tamer resolution penned by the Arizona School Boards Association.
That resolution avoided the term “assault rifle” and called on policymakers to more effectively regulate access to firearms, “especially by youth and those experiencing mental health issues, and urgently address access to firearms capable of quickly producing mass casualties.”
Governing Board members Hicks, Mark Stegeman and Rachel Sedgwick said they didn’t have a problem with that part of the resolution, but disagreed with a line that stated a “school employee’s role in campus safety and student well-being must not include carrying a gun or having access to one in their classroom or work area.”
Stegeman said he worried that the language could be interpreted to prohibit armed employees of the school safety department from carrying their guns on campus.
“That seems to impugn the current role of our school safety officers,” he said.
Sedgwick said while she opposes the idea of arming teachers, “I would be more willing to consider a principal having a gun, or a vice-principal.”
Hicks said in a perfect world, teachers wouldn’t need to be armed, but in the real world, someone needs to protect students in school shooting situations.
“I’m not forcing teachers to carry weapons . . . My intent is if there’s individuals out there who want to do that and they’re trained, I don't have a problem with it,” he said.
And Hicks added that he wouldn’t be surprised if administrators and teachers are already bringing firearms to school for their own safety and the safety of the students.
Instead of allowing that line to be stripped from the resolution, Foster decided to withdraw the resolution altogether.
“You took out the meat of what this is all about. The President of the United States has talked about arming teachers with guns . . . Our community deserves to know, needs to know, where each of us stands on that,” she said.
Board member Adelita Grijalva worried that by specifically removing that line, employees could be interpret that as condoning them bringing guns.
“I think it is dangerous for us to remove a line that says school employees should not carry a gun or have access to a gun in their classroom or work area. I think that’s dangerous,” Grijalva said.
Ultimately, the board didn’t adopt either resolution, when Sedgwick joined Foster and Grijalva in tabling it altogether.
Stegeman, the board president, promised to return to the issue at a later date.