Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Soon, two fewer guns at Richland 2

At tonight's board meeting, parents addressed the board on Board Policy GBEB Staff Conduct and its provision that has allowed two Richland 2 employees to carry their firearms concealed on school grounds. As a result of comments by parents and community members, and an anonymous letter to Dr. Elkins-Johnson, there is now a strong possibility that those guns will vanish from Richland 2 grounds.

After comments during the Public Participation segment (see the video on YouTube as soon as it is published (probably October 17)) and the board's discussion. It was vigorous, and almost everyone participated.

I'll say again, thank goodness for the YouTube recording. Tonight it was very difficult to hear the remarks of Dr. Elkins-Johnson, Mr. Shadd, Mrs. McKie, even Supt. Davis. Usually he leans forward and speaks directly in his microphone. The two staffers at the podium could not be heard throughout the room, either.

Dr. Elkins made a motion to remove parenthetical wording in GBEB about possessing weapons on district property. The Administration had proposed changing the bullet point identifying one item of misconduct from "possessing weapons on district property (unless otherwise authorized by law) to "possessing weapons on district property (unless otherwise authorized by law and the superintendent)".

At the September 24th school board meeting I spoke during the Public Participation segment and told the board that there had been a man in the board meeting carrying a concealed firearm before the start of the meeting. It was my opinion that none on the board was aware that any employee of the District was armed. I suggested that it should be the Board that authorizes such possession of weapons, not the superintendent.

Speakers tonight were not required to give their names. A woman read a long statement regarding the revision to Policy GBEB. For her full statement, view the YouTube recording. She enumerated conditions that she would find acceptable to authorization for designated employees to carry, which included being certified as law enforcement officers, training, mental-health evaluation annually.

After she left the meeting, I stepped out to speak with her, and I invited her to send me her statement for publication here and said I would be happy to publish it verbatim. Te hear her full statement, go to the YouTube recording. Fast-forward to 29:53 on the timer.

At tonight's meeting the Board discussion about Policy GBEB Staff Conduct begins at 55:04 on the YouTube recording. Dr. Elkins said she had first learned of employees' carrying guns through an anonymous letter. Dr. Elkins made a motion to delete "(unless otherwise authorized by law and the superintendent)" from the Policy. After a vigorous discussion, the motion passed 5-1-1. Amelia McKie voted against the motion. Dr. Caution-Parker abstained. The vote tonight was only on the motion, not on the revision itself.

At the October 29 board meeting Policy GBEB will come up for a vote. Parents should keep the pressure on the board by email, telephone and personal visits.