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Gun violenceSchool “lockdowns” in response to gun violence: It’s become almost a daily occurrence in the U.S. Indeed, school gun violence incidents have gotten so absurdly commonplace that many of us don’t even blink an eye as the latest red-letter alert crawls across our computer or TV screens. As I write this, two more such lockdowns are underway — at Yale University in Connecticut and here in North Carolina at Vance-Granville Community College.  Talk about evidence that this madness is an equal opportunity plague.

It’s gotten so bad that it probably won’t be long before we see a news story like the following:

NRA calls for universal lockdown to combat school shootings

In response to the 750th American school shooting in the last six months, the National Rifle Association announced today that it is calling for an immediate, national and permanent lockdown of all schools, businesses and places of worship in the country. Under the NRA proposal, only individuals carrying firearms will be allowed to enter or exit any of the specified facilities. The proposal would make an exception for children under 12 entering and exiting under the protection of an armed parent or guardian.

“We’re just plain tired of people saying the NRA doesn’t care Read More

Buddy Collins

According to an announcement released earlier today, Gov. McCrory has appointed A.L. “Buddy” Collins of Forsyth County to a two-year term on the state Task Force on Safer Schools. According to the release:  “The task force will provide guidance to the Center for Safer Schools and consider future policy and legislative action that is needed to improve school safety in North Carolina.”

The selection of Collins (pictured at left in an image taken from the website of the advocacy group Equality NC) comes as a bit of a surprise given the controversy that swirled around his original nomination to the Board of Education. That nomination, of course, was opposed vehemently by human rights advocates — particularly folks in the LGBT community — because of Collins’ repeated past clashes with advocates over proposed rules to protect LGBT children from bullying while serving on the Forsyth County Board of Education.

That controversy led Equality NC to detail a list of half-dozen objectionable acts by Collins and to call for Gov. McCrory to reconsider Collins’ nomination — an act he apparently never took.

Today’s appointment is rendered all the more interesting (and even ironic) by the fact that the Governor’s new “comprehensive plan” to make schools safer specifically mentions bullying at least 30 times.  

 

Tonight, the Wake County Board of Education will hear recommendations to make its schools safer—however, the task force put together in the aftermath of the Newtown school shootings to develop the safety recommendations did not make school policing one of its areas of consideration, according to Jason Langberg, an attorney for Advocates for Children’s Services and a task force member.

School resources officers (commonly known as SROs) are armed, certified law enforcement officers that are a common fixture in Wake County schools. They are employed by local police departments and the Wake County Sheriff’s Department. Funding for SROs comes from a variety of sources, including local, state and federal funds and grant programs, as well as a special state level fund that is intended to support any school safety measures, not just SROs.

While some contend that the presence of SROs make a school safer, others say that the opposite is frequently the case. Typically, SROs are trained in dealing with criminal actions and not how to handle children’s issues.

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Rep. Bobbie Richardson just told NC Policy Watch that she plans to remove her name from a bill that she filed with other House lawmakers yesterday that would allow school personnel to carry stun guns in schools and provide training for their use.

Reps. Riddell, Saine, and Richardson filed HB 987, “Emergency Stun Gun Use by School Personnel,” which would allow schools “to adopt rules and policies authorizing certain school employees to possess and carry certain weapons on educational property.”

Upon a careful review of the bill’s language, Richardson became worried that the bill could be interpreted to allow schools to require teachers or other school personnel to carry not just stun guns, but other weapons, including firearms.

The bill also provides $200,000 for LEAs, regional schools and charter schools to purchase stun guns for their employees.

Reps. Riddell and Saine could not be reached for comment regarding the bill.

This morning the House Education Committee took up HB 452, the 2013 School Safety Act. Rep. Holloway, co-sponsor of the bipartisan bill, hailed it as the most comprehensive school safety legislation in the country since the Newtown tragedy.

The bill would enact numerous provisions with regard to how schools plan for and mitigate acts of violence. Ten million dollars in both 2013-14 and again in 2014-15 would be appropriated to LEAs as grant money to provide more school resources officers (SROs) and their training in elementary and middle schools—but the money must be matched locally. For every $1 that the LEA directs toward increased SROs and their training, the state would match the LEA $2. Read More