The top law enforcement officer in Butler County has been busy since the Florida school shooting blasting local school boards on social media and lobbying them to adopt his plans to arm teachers and school personnel.
Sheriff Richard Jones shows no signs of easing off his public campaign to persuade the publicly elected members of the county’s 10 school districts to move faster toward passing resolutions to allow some volunteer teachers – who are trained in concealed carry weapons (CCW) – to have access to handguns while working.
Jones, who this week began free CCW classes for local teachers and school personnel, has urged Butler County residents to attend school board meetings to help pressure school boards.
And he has sharply criticized board members, stating they are not being truthful with the public regarding school security.
“If your school board tells you the schools are as safe as they can b(e). They are not telling you the truth,” Jones posted Thursday on his Twitter account.
Lynda O’Connor, a Lakota school board member since 2008, said: “I think the Sheriff’s comments come from a genuine, deep concern for our community’s students and staff and I share that concern. Lakota’s board has committed to consider all options available to us.
“In 2013 Lakota made a promise to its community to implement additional security measures including adding more school resource officers. We’ve fully honored that commitment. However Security is an ongoing concern as are mental health issues. The responsibility for these concerns will not end - we as a community will always have safety and security as a top priority.”
Jones’ unusually high-profile disparagement of the boards has already resulted in residents attending school board meetings this week and sharing their comments about Jones’ ideas – pro and con – with board members.
The Hamilton Board of Education took a preemptive action in anticipation of the public push backing Jones’ proposal by sending out – prior to its board meeting this week - a lengthy email to school parents in the 10,000-student district listing dozens of school security measures already in place.
The board also invited Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit to its Tuesday meeting to speak about the various security procedures already in place to protect the 10,000 students who attend the city’s schools.
Coming Sunday, this news organization takes a closer look at the growing impact of Jones’ unusual and highly public approach to pressuring local school boards, what residents are telling their elected school boards and how board members are reacting.