At sheriff’s urging, Hamilton residents lobby school board for armed teachers

Public lobbying by Butler County’s top law official saw more residents come out Tuesday evening to let a local school board know their stances on arming school teachers.

About a dozen speakers told the Hamilton Board of Education their opinions, most in support of the school security idea pushed by Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones in the wake of the Parkland, Fla. school shootings this month.

Hamilton schools resident Jim Graham told the board he backed Jones’ proposal, saying “I hold you responsible for the safety of my grandchildren at this point.”

“I saw at the recent shooting in Florida where armed folks in the school could have had an impact and lessened the devastation that occurred there,” Graham said.

“I’m an advocate for paid, armed personnel in our (school) buildings … I am an advocate of having teachers that would be willing to assume some of those roles to do that as well. We probably have teachers in our schools that would be willing to do that,” he said.

But city resident Kimberly Whitehead cautioned the board not to have a “knee jerk” reaction to the Parkland shooting by arming some Hamilton teachers.

The idea of armed teachers “scares me to damn death,” said Whitehead, who added that teachers already have enough responsibility.

“There are teachers who work for Hamilton city schools who are totally inept at the job they are paid to do. So why would I think they would be qualified to carry a gun?” she said. “Arming our teachers with guns is the worst idea that can ever happen.”

Monday marked the first day of free handgun training offered by Jones for Butler County school employees, including teachers. Hundreds have signed up, the sheriff said.

Jones has publicly urged residents to demand local school boards allow some teachers and non-teaching staffers who volunteer access to guns while working.

Active on social media, the sheriff in the last week has used the public forum to urge Butler County residents to attend local school board meetings to pressure members into passing resolutions allowing interested and trained school workers to be armed.

Some Ohio school systems already have armed school staffers who qualified for carrying concealed weapon (CCW) training and certification in their buildings.

“Be there let your voice be heard,” Jones said on Twitter Tuesday prior to the board meeting. “They work for you. Let teachers have ccw in school now.”

The Hamilton board took no action on the issue but said all security options – beyond the dozens of electronic, procedural, infrastructure and personnel safety measures, including armed city school resources officers already in use – will be considered by the board.

In other board action, members took no votes nor made any comments regarding their Feb. 6 order to place Hamilton Schools Superintendent Tony Orr on paid leave.

The board has said an investigation into allegations of violation of school board policies was the reason for placing Orr on leave but have since offered no further information nor timetable for that investigation’s completion.

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