Seattle School Board members approved a resolution calling for gun-safety legislation and opposing any efforts to arm teachers in schools. The resolution comes in the wake of the deadly shooting at a Parkland, Fla. high school.
The Seattle School Board supports stricter gun laws, opposes the “misguided suggestion” that it’s appropriate to arm teachers in schools and is endorsing a march planned by students after one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.
In a three-page resolution, the School Board says it supports “sensible gun-safety legislation” that includes raising the age to purchase assault weapons to 21, banning private gun-sale loopholes and increasing funding for mental-health programs and support staff.
Board members unanimously approved the resolution Wednesday. The board joins other districts across the country that have passed similar resolutions in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed by a former student.
“What happened on Valentine’s Day … is a tragedy and not one of us in this room and in this city can comprehend what it would be like to drop your child off at a school, then to hear about (the shooting) from the media or through text messages, of frightened children hiding in closets with a massacre going on of your friends and your teachers,” Board President Leslie Harris said Wednesday. “This has got to stop.”
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The board also “wholly rejects” suggestions from President Donald Trump and other elected officials that teachers should be able to have weapons in their classroom. In Florida, for example, legislators have advanced a bill that would create a program to put armed teachers in schools.
Washington state Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, has proposed funding a gun-training program for teachers.
Seattle school policies prohibit firearms on school properties. School Board members said those policies shouldn’t change.
“We don’t need to put a gun in the hands of our educators. They need pencils and books,” Board Member Eden Mack said.
Board members endorsed and said they plan to participate in a local March For Our Lives. Students have organized marches across the country to call for gun-safety laws. Seattle participants will start at 10 a.m. March 24 at Cal Anderson Park and walk to KeyArena.
On the event’s Facebook page, more than 6,000 people have said they plan to attend. The organizers, all high-school students, are working with a network of 400 volunteers, said Ballard High student and organizer Emilia Allard.
The youth of Washington are infuriated by what they see as a lack of action from Washington legislators to take action on gun legislation, Allard said.
“We demand action now,” she said. “ … Never again will our schools be a place of fear.”
Students have also planned walkouts at their schools on March 14 to commemorate the 17 people who died in the Parkland school shooting. The district supports the students’ rights to protest but encourages students to remain on campus,
Superintendent Larry Nyland and Harris wrote in a letter sent to parents Wednesday. One reason is for safety, they wrote, and because, under state law, those students will receive an unexcused absence.
At the end of the letter, Nyland and Harris encouraged families to talk to students about preventing gun violence, adding that they know families and staff will have different perspectives on gun control.
“Until school shootings are nonexistent, we must all be engaged in finding better solutions,” they wrote. “We believe that students should come to school to develop their love of learning. They need to be planning for their future not fearing for their future or worrying if their school will be the scene of the next national tragedy.”