Local teachers have mixed opinions on armed school officers

Posted at 12:14 AM, Jan 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-17 00:14:20-05

Local educators were mixed when it came to their opinion of President Barack Obama’s gun control proposals and executive orders. 

This classroom problem needs a different answer says Richmond school board member, Shonda Harris-Muhammed.  She doesn’t like the idea of adding more resource officers to schools.  “It provides for an additional distraction,” says Harris-Muhammed.

It’s a distraction she says can lead to another disaster similar to the one in Newtown, Connecticut, which prompted the president's quest for more gun control. “The issue, I believe, is not the weapon itself.  The issue is the individual and their mental capacity,” says Harris- Muhammed.

Her thinking is parallel with the National Parent Teacher Association, which released a statement saying, “As the President conveyed in his remarks, our number one task, as a nation, is to protect our children. To achieve this, National PTA believes schools also must be completely gun-free.  The Administration’s recommendation to expand the school resource officer program therefore comes as a disappointment.”

In addition to resource officers, Harris-Muhammed does praise the president's proposal to add more counselors to schools to tackle mental health.  Another long-time educator agrees. 

“Budget cuts have had way too much of an impact on the mental health services that are currently being provided,” says Kitty Boitnott. 

She feels this way after being in the classroom following events at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech. However, those events are also why she gives the president an A+ for allotting $150 million to equip some schools with an armed officer.

“But at the end of the day, none of us are full proof.  No program is infallible. Freaky things might happen,” says Boitnott.

President Obama says it would be up to each school district to determine if it wants to put more armed resource officers in schools.