A number of Hamilton residents criticized school district officials Thursday night for agreeing this week with plans by Hamilton City Police and Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones to arm some school staffers.
On Monday, Jones unveiled a billboard in downtown Hamilton blasting Hamilton school officials for allegedly being lax in upgrading school security.
But Wednesday the Journal-News was the first to report that Hamilton school district officials have agreed to allow some school staffers who volunteer — and are properly trained and certified — to have access to a firearm while working in the city schools.
“School was my safe place, not because somebody had a gun,” said resident Tammy Schwartz.
“When we continue to focus on guns, we are focusing on symptoms,” said Schwartz, who encouraged the board to instead expand mental health services to students.
Fellow resident Abby Ison said, “I don’t want you (board) to be blackmailed or intimidated by billboards.”
“I’m angry. He (Jones) overstepped his bounds again,” she said.
Jones, a long-time advocate for allowing qualified school staffers access to handguns to better protect students from armed attackers, said the historic changes are needed.
“Bucheit and I are in agreement,” said Jones, who earlier this year offered free Conceal Carry Warrant arms training to Butler County teachers as he publicly pressured local school districts to allow armed personnel in school buildings.
Hamilton Schools, which already have a rotation of armed school resource officers supplied by Hamilton Police, will become the second district in the county — along with rural Madison Schools — to allow firearm access to trained school staffers.
Hamilton Schools Superintendent Larry Knapp said, “we are all in agreement” after Wednesday’s meeting with Jones and Bucheit.
School staffers — which could include building administrators and teachers — will have to pass a series of qualifying hurdles to be eligible to have access to a firearm during the school day, said Knapp.
The use of metal detectors on students is another first for Hamilton Schools.
Knapp said the hand-held metal detectors — or “wands” — will be deployed “unannounced and randomly” during school days at buildings.
This article contains previous reporting by staff writer Michael D. Clark.
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