GENEVA – Concerned about a new resolution to allow school districts to arm their staff, Sara Hoiling asked the Geneva District 304 school board to send a delegate to the Illinois Association of School Boards to vote against it.
Speaking at the Oct. 15 school board meeting, Holing wore a red T-shirt from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Holing said the Illinois Association of School Boards has two resolutions at its annual conference Nov. 23 where districts across the state will again have an opportunity to vote whether to allow districts to decide whether they should arm teachers during the school day.
“If it’s passed, the IASB would work to support and advocate for legislation which provides local school boards the option of developing safety plans which may include administrators and teachers to be trained and licensed to carry firearms in school while students are present,” Holing said.
The Pew Research Center conducted a study in April 2018, asking students and parents how they felt about measures taken for school safety, Holing said.
Instead, students advocated for banning assault weapons, providing for more mental health services and using metal detectors, Holing said.
The Giffords Law Center blog, led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, has documented more than 80 incidents of mishandling guns in schools in the last five years, Holing said.
These including a teacher who dropped a gun from his waistband while turning a cartwheel, a student grabbing an officer’s gun while he was attempting to subdue a student and a teacher unintentionally firing a gun in class during a safety demonstration, Holing said.
“There is strong opposition to arming teachers,” Holing said. “Seven out of 10 teens are against it. Eight out of 10 teachers are against it and seven out of 10 parents are against it.”
Holing urged the board to send a delegate to the conference to vote not to adopt that resolution
A second proposed resolution would address school safety and security by calling for IASB to support legislation that would create and fund a program that would assist school districts in hiring school resource officers.
But Holing said the resolution does not detail the training required for the individual, security personnel, nor the resource officer's relationship with local law enforcement.
“I believe much more information is required in order to consider it,” Holing said, asking again that a district delegate attend the conference and vote no on this resolution as well.
“If you do not send a delegate, it’s essentially a yes (vote),” Holing said. “So we are imploring you to send a delegate.”
Board president Mark Grosso said this issue came up last year.
“And we did vote no,” Grosso said. “Historically, this is what we have done. And we will look at this again this year.”
Last November, the IASB presented a resolution to their membership to approve arming teachers in Illinois schools during the school day, Holing said.
“The vote was taken at their annual conference in Chicago,” Holing said. “The resolution lost by 24 votes.”
According to the IASB website, iasb.com, the vote on Nov. 17, 2018 was 179 in favor and 203 against.
Other members of Moms Demand Action attending the meeting with Holing were Annie Bardelas, Sarah Kemnitz and Paula Merrington.