The Flagstaff Unified School District Board and superintendent have come out against the idea of arming teachers or staff with guns in a letter to parents earlier this month.
Arizona Revised Statutes currently do not allow guns to be carried on the grounds of public schools or universities unless the person is a law enforcement officer. Although several legislators have proposed several bills since 2008 that would allow guns to be carried on campus, all of those bills have failed.
The board and superintendent sent a letter to parents regarding concerns about students walking out of class on March 14 and 24 and April 20 in remembrance of the shootings in Parkland, Fla., and the Columbine High School shooting. According to the letter, students who participate in the walkout will not be punished as long as they do not disrupt school operations and are respectful of others who do not participate in the walkout. Students at Flagstaff and Coconino High School are planning to hold a memorial walkout for the shooting victims.
The second to last paragraph of the letter states, “We oppose suggestions to bring more guns into our schools by administrators and teachers.” The letter then states that the district board and superintendent would rather have additional funding for school security, reasonable restrictions on access to weapons and increased funding for mental health services and school counselors.
FUSD Superintendent Mike Penca confirmed the district’s stance in an email.
“You are correct, the board and I do not support suggestions to arm staff with guns,” he wrote. “State funding for school safety has been reduced in past years. A restoration of funds could support FUSD’s efforts to upgrade security measures such as cameras, check-in systems and to monitor door access. Funding could provide additional training for staff and students on safety protocols, trauma-informed schools, and kindness initiatives. Additional funding could be used increase students’ access to counselors, mental health services, and to add (safety resource officer) positions.”
The district has several safety measures in place in all of its school, including armed resource officers, regular drills for active shooter situations and vestibules that force visitors to walk through the school office before they can enter the building.