No to armed teachers in Illinois schools

School boards vote against guns in classrooms

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By Maria Maxham

For the second year in a row, Illinois school boards voted against a proposed resolution that would force the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) to support legislation allowing educational districts to decide for themselves whether to allow teachers to be trained and armed at school.

This year's vote, which took place on Nov. 23 at the IASB annual meeting, was 198 in favor of adopting the resolution and 249 against. Had it passed, the IASB would actively work to support legislation that would allow local school districts to choose for themselves whether they want to arm teachers. It would not mandate that they have to do so. 

According to a press release from the IASB, "The intent of the proposed resolution was to give local school districts the authority to decide what is best for their communities in the areas of school safety and student protection. The resolution was supported primarily by rural school districts with concerns about emergency response time and lack of financial resources to employ school resource officers."

Local school districts, including District 91 (Forest Park), District 97 (Oak Park) and District 90 (River Forest) all sent delegates to the IASB meeting on Nov. 23 to vote against the resolution.

Kyra Tyler, D91 board president, verified that board member Kim Rostello, the district's delegate at the meeting, voted against the resolution. 

"We are saddened that this is something that people think is a viable solution because we would never want to put that responsibility on our teachers," said Tyler. "They have enough to contend with as educational professionals, and we don't see this as an appropriate use of their talents. We are thrilled it didn't pass and hope it will be defeated should it come up again."

At an October board of education meeting, River Forest D90 board Vice President Barb Hickey said she would be serving as delegate this year as she did in 2018 when the topic was previously voted on. 

With the board's approval, she voted against the resolution in 2018 and planned to again in 2019, but she said the discussion at the IASB meeting on the topic was "valuable and interesting." Hickey stated that most of the school districts supporting the resolution in 2018 were from rural communities where 911 response time could be up to half an hour.

"They have different concerns," she said. But she expressed in no uncertain terms how River Forest school board members stand on the issue. "Our district does not want guns in our schools," said Hickey.

A related resolution was passed at the IASB meeting on Nov. 23. This resolution calls for the IASB to support legislation that would provide state school safety grants for hiring school resource officers or security personnel.

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