School boards vote down arming teachers

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By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

For the second consecutive year, delegates to the annual convention of the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) voted down a resolution that would have authorized the group to lobby the Illinois General Assembly to pass a bill that would allow school districts to allow properly trained teachers and other staff members to carry guns in school.

On Nov. 23, delegates from 249 school districts, including all the school districts covered by the Landmark except for Lyons Township High School District 204, which did not send a representative, voted against resolution while 198 school districts voted in favor.

"I don't feel that teachers should carry guns," said Rashida McKelvin, who represented Komarek School District 94 at the convention, explaining her vote. "It's not really their area of expertise and it just adds another level of complexity to their role."

Delegates did, however, approve a resolution that called for the IASB to lobby for state grants that would pay for school districts to hire school resource officers or school security officers, who would likely be armed. That measure was approved by a vote of 289 to 126.

Local school districts split on this vote with Laura Hruska, the delegate from Riverside-Brookfield High School District 208 voting in favor of the resolution, while delegates from Komarek, Riverside Elementary School District 96, and Brookfield- LaGrange Park District 95 voted against it.

RBHS has had an armed school security liaison, former North Riverside Police Chief Lane Niemann, for nearly two years.

The resolution that would have called upon the IASB to lobby for a law that would allow properly trained teachers to carry guns at school was proposed by Mercer County United School District 404. 

Mercer County is located in western Illinois, south of the Quad Cities. Those in favor of the resolution argued that schools in rural areas needed to have the option of allowing some school staff to carry guns because of the lengthy time it would take police to respond to an attack at their schools. 

But delegates from more urban and suburban school districts generally opposed the measure, arguing that guns have no place in schools.

The League of Women Voters of the LaGrange Area had advocated for votes against both resolutions, and personally made its case to all of the local districts prior to the vote.

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