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Massachusetts school board opposes arming teachers

State education officials said that arming teachers in response to shootings would actually make schools less safe.
March For Our Lives participants and supporters rally in the Boston Common. (Derek Kouyoumjian)

Massachusetts education officials have shut down the idea of arming teachers in classrooms across the commonwealth.

After the Parkland school shooting in which 17 people were killed, President Donald Trump called for teachers to carry firearms in schools as a way to protect students from more shootings.

On Tuesday, the state’s education board unanimously passed a resolution opposing that suggestion, saying that “arming teachers is not the right answer.”

“A vigorous public debate is taking place across the country on whether teachers should be permitted, or even encouraged, to carry firearms in schools,” the memorandum for Tuesday’s education board meeting reads.

“Traditionally, the board has declined to take positions on public policy decisions that are not directly within its purview,” the document continues. “But this may be one of those rare moments where even a symbolic vote is important.”

In the approved resolution, the board says it was “deeply troubled” by the Feb. 14 Parkland shooting as well as shootings prior to that date.

The resolution notes that there is no “evidence-based research” showing that arming teachers would reduce the number of casualties in a mass shooting and that allowing guns in schools in the hands of those other than law enforcement officers would instead increase the risk of accidental shootings.

“Teachers are first and foremost educators and therefore should be employed solely on the basis of their educational skills and credentials, not their skills as a security officer,” the resolution reads. “Therefore be it resolved that the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education believes arming educators will make schools less safe, and the board opposes any move to do so.”

Meeting attendees continued to talk about how to increase school safety and raised the topic of focusing on mental health.

“An investment in mental health and ways that we can better support our students is much needed, and I think every superintendent would echo that,” Taunton Superintendent Julie Hackett said at the meeting, according to a video shared on Twitter.

Hackett reportedly described an incident where a student told a school resource officer that he had an AR15 in the days following the Parkland shooting.

“We have the mandate and the suggestion to have more mental health,” she added, “but we don’t always have the funding.”