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Parents blast Madison Schools for plan to arm staffers

A handful of families in Madison Local Schools have hired a legal firm to oppose the Butler County district’s plan to arm some school staffers.

MORE: Madison schools plan to allow some school staffers access to guns

Some of the five families also plan to oppose the Madison school board’s plan at Friday’s public meeting.

In a 10-page letter to Madison Board of Education members, an attorney representing school parent Erin Gabbard criticized board members for their action in the spring in agreeing to allow school staffers who volunteer — which includes training in firearms and further board approval — to have access to firearms.

MORE: Hamilton residents critical of plan to arm school staffers

Moreover, the attorney said the board should have held more public discussions before taking such action.

“All of these families share the board’s desire to take any and every step possible to keep the community’s school children safe. However, they strongly disagree with the view that arming teachers, support staff, administrators, and “others” would accomplish this goal,” wrote Columbus-based attorney Rachel Bloomekatz.

In 2016 Madison Senior/Junior High School saw an eighth-grader fire a gun wounding three classmates.

Police investigators look over the aftermath of the 2016 Madison High School shooting that left three students wounded and the rural Butler County community in shock. (CONTRIBUTED/BUTLER COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE)

MORE: Madison Schools shocked by shooting

“The board’s decision to potentially authorize arming individual teachers and other school employees carries with it substantial legal and financial risk, as well as numerous unanswered questions directly related to the safety of the district’s children. Ms. Gabbard and the undersigned parents are deeply concerned that there has been virtually no public discussion or consideration of these issues and that the members of this community have little if any basis on which to make critical decisions about their children’s education, safety and well-being. We therefore urge the Board and the Superintendent to suspend any further action — including any decision to authorize specific teachers or personnel to be armed—unless and until a full and thorough disclosure, vetting, and public discussion of these issues has taken place.”

“The purpose of this letter is to raise a number of serious legal and financial issues that the board appears to have failed to appropriately address in its adoption of the resolution,” stated the letter.

Madison School officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Butler County sheriff’s deputies block the Ohio 122 entrance to Madison Jr./Sr. High School on Feb. 29, 2016, after a school shooting. (NICK GRAHAM/STAFF)

The website for the district, however, states Friday’s special school board meeting, which begins with an executive session at 5:30 p.m. followed by a 6 p.m. public meeting, is “for the purpose of providing a public forum for discussing the board’s firearms authorization policy and related issues.”

Madison school parent Terrah Roberts, whose name is listed on the attorney’s letter as joining in opposition to the new firearm policy, told the Journal-News “research has consistently shown that arming teachers will not keep our children safe. It will only put them in more danger.”

Roberts declined to say whether the parents planned to take legal action against Madison Schools.

“Arming the teachers is smoke screen. The board had constantly refused to engage us in any meaningful conversation about this issue, until now,” said Roberts.

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