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    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    How Texas is a model for Trump's gun-toting teachers

    How Texas is a model for Trump's gun-toting teachers

    The state created a program to intensively train and arm 'school marshals.' Its creator thinks it could well be the inspiration for the president's endorsement of arming educators.

    By BENJAMIN WERMUND
    02/24/2018 06:49 AM EST

    President Donald Trump’s vision of a force of armed teachers, “highly trained” and ready to stop school shooters, already exists — in Texas.

    State lawmakers have created a program to train and arm “school marshals” — teachers, principals, coaches, custodians and others ready to defend a school. And the program’s creator thinks it could well be the inspiration for Trump’s endorsement of armed teachers, following the murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

    “I was watching the press conference ... and realized quickly he was talking about our bill, and had described in exquisite detail what the bill does, even going so far as to use our talking points,” state Rep. Jason Villalba, a Dallas Republican, told POLITICO. “It looks like the president of the United States is looking to Texas as a model for the nation.”

    Villalba said that he texted Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who, as Texas governor, signed the bill that created the school marshal program, and “congratulated him.” Perry did not respond.

    “I know he’s got the president’s ear. In Texas when we’ve got a good idea, we share it,” Villalba said. “We’re excited about expanding what we believe to be the model for the nation.” Perry aides did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

    Under the program, schools in districts that participate can designate marshals who undergo background checks and active-shooter training. “This is not some insignificant, go-to-a-weekend class and all of a sudden you’re Rambo,” Villalba said. “This is a serious requirement.”

    It's not clear how many marshals there are because it is a secret force. The few districts that are thought to have authorized them typically won’t even say they have done so — so gunmen can’t target them. Students don’t know if their teacher is a marshal. Neither do parents. It’s based on the theory of secret flight marshals — which Trump has also referenced.

    But its backers insist it’s been effective, pointing to the lack of active shooter assaults at schools in the state, though there's no research or concrete evidence to make the case.

    Supporters concede it wouldn’t be right in school districts where parents and teachers object to the concept, which likely would be many.

    Texas already was one of a handful of states that allow districts to choose whether to let teachers carry guns at school, even without the intensive training that comes along with the school marshals program. Lawmakers in at least a half-dozen other states — including Florida — are considering legislation this year that would ease restrictions on firearms on campus.

    "When we declare our schools to be gun-free zones it just puts our students in more danger, far more danger — well-trained, gun-adept teachers and coaches should be able to carry concealed firearms," Trump said Friday. He added that if concealed carry had been allowed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the gunman entered last week, “a teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened."

    After the Sandy Hook mass school shooting in 2012, Villalba, who had children in kindergarten at the time, had feelings similar to Trump’s: If people had been armed in that school, maybe they could have stopped it sooner.

    “The problem is, most school districts and parents and trustees are not comfortable with that,” Villalba said. “We wanted something that would give parents some comfort.”

    That led to the marshals program, signed into law in 2013. Schools can designate one marshal for every 400 students, or one per building in schools that don’t have that many students. Marshals go through a series of background checks and psychological evaluations and undergo the same active shooter training as police — an 80-hour program created by the same state agency that enforces standards for law enforcement. And they do that every two years.

    The full process cost between $5,000 and $7,000 per marshal. Districts are allowed to offer marshals a stipend, if they choose. The state initially created a small grant program to help districts that took part cover training costs or stipends, but the money ran out and lawmakers have not reauthorized the funding.
    President Donald Trump is pictured. | Getty Images

    The marshals are technically a new class of police officer who are deputized only in an active shooting situation. They are not legally authorized to break up fights, for instance. If students are around, they have to keep their guns in a lockbox. They can only use frangible ammo, which breaks apart upon impact — theoretically stopping bullets from blasting into other classrooms.

    Because of the anonymity required, there aren’t solid numbers on the size of the program. Villalba said there are roughly 100 marshals in the state.

    Some estimates put the number of districts with marshals at about 20. Villalba said he believes it’s more districts than that, but fewer than 50. Most of them are smaller, more rural districts that don’t have their own police forces, and in some cases are far from law enforcement. The state has nearly 1,300 districts.

    In addition, Texas districts have long been allowed to let school staff carry guns, with or without the marshal training.

    The tiny Harrold school district, near the Oklahoma border, decided to let some staff carry more than a decade ago, after the Virginia Tech shooting.

    These staffers aren’t marshals, so they don’t follow the same rules. But David Thweatt, the superintendent, said they’re also trained by local law enforcement. The staff who carry guns (Thweatt wouldn’t say how many) have to keep their guns on them, though hidden, at all times.

    The district is in a fairly large county, geographically, and Thweatt says his schools are all on one campus, which is about 30 minutes from first responders. He thought arming his staff was necessary.

    Thweatt said he picks the staff members who he thinks would be best for the job and the school board approves them.

    “The problem we hear from opponents to our plan — they all picture that absent-minded teacher they had in high school who couldn’t find her pens on a regular basis,” he said. “We aren’t doing that. We have personalities in mind. It would be people who are good in a crisis, would run in direction of gunfire, are willing to protect others.”

    The district drew a lot of attention when it created the program and Thweatt says he “would be hard-pressed to say I have not spoken to people over the last 11 years in every state.”

    But many doubt how effective arming teachers would be. Teachers’ unions have said educators have too much on their plate already.

    A school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, meanwhile, resigned Thursday after it was revealed he stayed outside of the school as the shooting unfolded inside. Trump on Friday told reporters the officer "trained his whole life but when it came time to do something he didn't have the courage."

    None of the Texas officials POLITICO interviewed were aware of teachers or other school staff having to respond to an active shooter situation. Thweatt said “the only thing we have are wild hogs that on occasion we have to discourage.”

    But proponents of the Texas programs argue the lack of shootings is evidence they’re working — that they’re deterring would-be shooters.

    They also concede it might not be right for all schools.

    “It’s just based on the needs of our community, the wishes of our school board. I think if there’s not parental support for it, it’s not going to be effective,” said Kevin Dyes, the superintendent of the Holliday school district, about an hour east of Harrold, which has a similar program.

    Their program works, in part, because the town is small enough for law enforcement to know virtually everyone in the school, Dyes said. That would cut down on confusion for police responding to a school shooting, he argued.

    But also, he pointed out: “We know if there ever is a situation when law enforcement are coming, we’re somewhat at risk. If one of our employees is running around with a gun and law enforcement has been told there’s someone with a gun, they’re looking for someone with a gun.”

    Dyes said he carries a gun, but only at work. He sees it as part of his job, and he locks the gun away when he goes home.

    “There’s a lot of people with a lot of guns out there and there are a lot of people out there who are unstable,” Dyes said. “We don’t believe everybody ought to be toting guns or anything, but let’s be practical. If somebody harbors ill will and comes on our campus, how are we going to stop that person?”

    https://www.politico.com/story/2018/...s-trump-362397
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    It's not clear how many marshals there are because it is a secret force. The few districts that are thought to have authorized them typically won’t even say they have done so — so gunmen can’t target them.
    This is a wise procedure. I have a concern with armed security being at the schools as they would be target one for a shooter. Concealed weapons that generally no one knows who has them is a better defense!

    Districts are allowed to offer marshals a stipend, if they choose.
    My guess is that teachers and administrators who already are familiar with weapons would be glad to be permitted without any financial incentive!

    But many doubt how effective arming teachers would be. Teachers’ unions have said educators have too much on their plate already.
    That security officer who was on the campus allegedly stood outside for four minutes while the killing was going on inside. I bet a few of the teachers would have accepted his weapon and gone in shooting!

    Arming school personnel is not the answer. It is a necessity at this point in time. The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as has been revealed, was a failure by police, FBI combined with a number of possible psychological factors leading up to the shooting. Until we have addressed all of these, we must protect against such potential disasters.
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Broward sheriff investigating claims that multiple deputies failed to enter Parkland school "when they should have"

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/.../broward-sheriffs-office-launches-internal-investigati...
    2 hours ago - The Broward County Sheriff's Office said it is investigating allegations that multiple deputies failed to enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in ... Israel, the sheriff, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Friday that if investigators find “that our deputies made mistakes and didn't go in, I'll handle it like I ...
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    MW
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    I don't really have a position on arming teachers. I see both negative and positive behind doing so. However, I do support assigning more school resource officers. I recently read a recommendation somewhere regarding the assignment of 1 school resource officer for every 1,000 students. That is something I would support. Although, I would say, regardless of the size of the school, there should be a minimum of two officers. One assigned to a desk in the front lobby and one constantly on patrol. If you have 3,000 students there would be one stationed at the desk and two on patrol. The resource officers would be trained and assigned by the local police department or county's sheriff office in a rural county's. Of course I won't deny such an effort would eat up a lot of city, county, state or whatever tax dollars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MW View Post
    Of course I won't deny such an effort would eat up a lot of city, county, state or whatever tax dollars.
    How would that compare with the cost of paying teachers who carry, a $1000 bonus per year?

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    Would be insurance issues too - the risk of accident and premiums expensive to insure. The metal detectors are not cheap either plus an armed guard but prefer that over asking teachers to tote a gun. Let a professional security person do it.

    There are several different school systems - public, charter, private, Catholic etc. Charter schools have dealings with private entities - the liability with teachers having guns is just too much risk.

    Oddly, sometimes a reversed approach works but think this is rare..article below. That area is part of an ever expanding poor, high % hispanic community, not many mexicans though, more puerto rican, dominican & possibly central americans now also - anything goes in those neighborhoods. The junkies are there because that is where they get their goods. Now there is discussion to make an actual safe using facility. And the people of the community say well they are here anyway, etc, etc. No way should that be allowed.

    In a desperately poor, dangerous part of town, Memphis Street Academy decided to ditch its metal detectors and focus on supporting students. Violence dropped by 90 percent.

    Jeff Deeney Jul 18 2013, The Atlantic:

    Last year when American Paradigm Schools took over Philadelphia’s infamous, failing John Paul Jones Middle School, they did something a lot of people would find inconceivable. The school was known as “Jones Jail” for its reputation of violence and disorder, and because the building physically resembled a youth correctional facility. Situated in the Kensington section of the city, it drew students from the heart of a desperately poor hub of injection drug users and street level prostitution where gun violence rates are off the charts. But rather than beef up the already heavy security to ensure safety and restore order, American Paradigm stripped it away. During renovations, they removed the metal detectors and barred windows.

    The police predicted chaos. But instead, new numbers seem to show that in a single year, the number of serious incidents fell by 90%.

    The school says it wasn’t just the humanizing physical makeover of the facility that helped. Memphis Street Academy also credits the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), a noncoercive, nonviolent conflict resolution regimen originally used in prison settings that was later adapted to violent schools. AVP, when tailored to school settings, emphasizes student empowerment, relationship building and anger management over institutional control and surveillance. There are no aggressive security guards in schools using the AVP model; instead they have engagement coaches, who provide support, encouragement, and a sense of safety.

    The size and immediacy of the drop will strike some as suspect, but Memphis Street Academy stands by accuracy of their numbers, saying that they are required by law to report the same types of incidents any other school must report. Nothing about the reporting process or the kinds of incidents that must be reported was changed. And while many charter schools are criticized for “creaming,” i.e. taking only the best students and transferring those with behavior problems or disabilities to other struggling public schools, the Memphis Street Academy and the Alternatives to Violence Project insist that wasn’t the case, here. The conditions of their charter required them to pick up exactly where John Paul Jones left off.

    Carolyn Schodt, a registered nurse at Alternatives to Violence who also runs AVP inside Graterford State Prison, says, “We did this with the same students, same parents, same poverty. In one school year serious incidents – drug sales, weapons, assaults, rapes – went from 138 to 15.

    “The police department told us flat out, ‘You’re foolish, and you’ll regret it.'”

    Fifth grade certainly isn’t too early for school-based violence intervention programming in North Philadelphia. Memphis Street Academy kids grow up quick. Many students have parents struggling with addiction and older siblings in the drug game who are already either dead or in jail. The reality of life in their community can be harsh; teachers say students coming to school in the morning witness prostitutes on Kensington Avenue tricking to get their wake-up dope shots. On the way home in the afternoon, after the extensive network of drug corners operating in the neighborhood are up and humming, they might have to dodge bullets. Students have brought dirty syringes and discarded guns they found on the street to class. By middle school many of them have witnessed more violence than most Americans who didn’t serve in a war ever will.

    Previously listed as one of Pennsylvania’s persistently dangerous schools, John Paul Jones was known as an unruly place where fights were the norm and street violence from the surrounding neighborhood occasionally spilled onto school property. This despite the fact that security measures at the time–the ones the school got rid of while rebranding to Memphis Street Academy–were extreme.

    “Every day ,” says CEO of American Paradigm Schools Stacey Cruise, “they would set up a perimeter of police officers on the blocks around the school, and those police were there to protect neighbors from the children, not to protect the children from the neighborhood.” Before school let out the block would clear, neighbors coming in off their porches and fearfully shutting their doors. Nearby bodegas would temporarily close shop. When the bell rung, 800 rambunctious children would stream out the building’s front doors, climbing over vehicles parked in front of the school in the rush to get away.

    School police officers patrolled the building at John Paul Jones, and children were routinely submitted to scans with metal detecting wands. All the windows were covered in metal grating and one room that held computers even had thick iron prison bars on its exterior.

    In taking the hugely risky leap to a noncoercive, nonviolence based safety system at Memphis Street Academy, American Paradigm says convincing community stakeholders that these prison-like implements of the security state needed to be discarded wasn’t easy.

    “The police department told us flat out, ‘You’re foolish, and you’ll regret it,'” says Jerry Santilli, American Paradigm’s co-founder. He says that the police department lobbied so hard the school was ultimately convinced not to remove all the window gratings, leaving the rear of the school still enmeshed in metal because the officers informed them of a network of drug houses operating directly across the street.

    The school took the grates down from the building façade in an elaborate ceremony, inviting news crews to film a cherry picker crane lifting them off the building. Police brass showed up wearing Kevlar vests, a school administrator said, to make their feelings about the neighborhood clear.

    Later that night 12 of the windows got shot out by drug crews.

    It didn’t change anyone’s mind; in fact, it proved an opportunity for Memphis Street Academy CEO Dr. Christine Borelli, herself a neighborhood native who spent part of her childhood living with her grandmother at Kensington & Somerset, one of the most notorious drug corners in the world, to begin the process of reaching out to the community and building relationships with families. Her willingness to come on the block and get cooperation from distrustful neighbors proved crucial.

    “I don’t just fit in here, I’m from here. I’m proud to be from here. When I go out to look for a student who’s not coming to school I run into people I know. Parents appreciate that you’re not fearful of the community.”

    Many educators have come to question the value of the oppressive security measures that predominate in big urban public schools like Philadelphia’s: metal detectors, barred windows, windows that open only a crack ostensibly to keep objects or people from being thrown out of them, and militaristic security staff that roam the hallways demanding documentation from students not in the classroom,

    Assaults on students by other students and on teachers and administrators have persisted despite these measures. It raises the question of whether the marginal benefits of the district’s security apparatus are worth the psychological impact of creating an environment for children that so closely resembles a correctional facility. The kids at John Paul Jones, who nicknamed their own school the “Jones Jail,” were clearly aware that it was the school-to-prison pipeline entrance.

    Shaun Harper is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education where he heads the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education. His forthcoming book Exceeding Expectations explores the subject of black and Latino male academic achievement, which he feels is shaped by environmental factors like the physical condition and culture at a particular school.

    “Environment matters,” says Harper, who interviewed hundreds of low-income New York City public school students for his research on the subject. “If a school promotes academic rigor and going to college, that shapes student behavior. If a school’s environment feels unsafe and looks like a prison, then that does, also.” None of the kids Harper has ever interviewed who went from a high-security school to a low-security school ever said they felt unsafe without all the bars and metal detectors. Like many educators, he’s dubious about the protection these measures actually provide. He cites the story of a hard-working, college-bound student in New York City who accidentally brought to school a box cutter he used on a summer job and forgot to remove from his backpack. For months this student unwittingly carried the box cutter in and out of the school undetected before a security officer finally discovered it. Once the box cutter was discovered, the student was suspended. Did this make the school any safer?

    American Paradigm pitched a new way forward on the safety question to AVP, when asking them to come on board as a partner. Rather than aggressive security guards patrolling the hallways, American Paradigm wanted a network of “engagement coaches” whose job is to be continually interacting with children in a supportive instead of punitive role. Engagement coaches were recruited from Troops to Teachers, a program that trains veterans as educators. The vets provide a strong role model presence that makes children feel secure. AVP agreed to also train the engagement coaches in nonviolent conflict resolution, so their job is to help mediate disputes rather than dole out punishment. Since the children trust their engagement coaches, the school is able to get ahead of potential conflicts: coaches often get advance word, for example, when something’s about to go down in the hallways.*

    Professor Shaun Harper believes even kids who have grown up in violent environments can adapt to a school environment that is more gentle and humane. He explains that in better-performing public schools in New York City, academic achievement can be established as the community norm through small acts like announcing each student’s college acceptance over the PA system. “You do this for the 9th graders,” Harper explains, “not for the seniors who are getting admitted to college. When I interview 9th graders at better-performing low-income schools about why they want to go to college, they say because that’s the expectation the school has for them.”

    Memphis Street Academy says their own internal student polling reflects Mr Harper’s research findings. Allowed to respond anonymously to questionnaires, 73% of students said they now felt safe at school, 100% said they feel there’s an adult at school who cares about them and 95% said they hope to graduate from college one day. These are the same Jones Jail kids who 12 months ago were climbing over cars to get away from school (Memphis Street Academy has since staggered dismissals and is using AVP techniques on the grounds as kids leave–nearby bodegas have stopped locking their doors when school lets out).

    When asked about the security changes at Memphis Street Academy a ten-year-old fifth-grader sums up her experience: “There are no more fights. There are no more police. That’s better for the community.”

    https://avpusa.org/philadelphia_schools/
    Last edited by artist; 02-25-2018 at 05:18 PM.
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    Wow, that's a remarkable improvement.
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    Four sheriff’s deputies hid during Florida school shooting

    By Ruth Brown
    February 23, 2018 | 5:42pm | Updated


    Students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14.AP

    Four armed officers and years of warnings did nothing to stop Nikolas Cruz from massacring 17 people at a high school.



    Not one but four sheriff’s deputies hid behind cars instead of storming Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, Fla., during Wednesday’s school shooting, police claimed Friday — as newly released records revealed the Broward County Sheriff’s Office had received at least 18 calls about the troubled teen over the past decade.

    Sources from Coral Springs, Fla., Police Department tell CNN that when its officers arrived on the scene Wednesday, they were shocked to find three Broward County Sheriff’s deputies behind their cars with weapons drawn.


    The school’s armed resource officer, Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson, was also outside. He resigned on Thursday after his failure to act was publicly revealed.


    The Coral Springs cops entered the building to engage the shooter on their own, before other Broward County deputies arrived, two of whom joined the police inside, the sources said.


    It was unclear whether the shooter was still inside at the time, CNN reported.


    Coral Springs City Manager Mike Goodrum confronted Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel during a vigil for victims the next day, saying students could have been dying in the school while the deputies held back.


    The next day, Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi wrote in an internal e-mail that “another agency has given the impression that it had provided the majority of the rescue efforts.”


    “Please know that this issue will be addressed, and the truth will come out in time,” he wrote.


    In an official statement Friday, the police department said only that “any actions or inactions that negatively affected the response will be investigated.”


    News of the deputies’ apparent inaction came after the sheriff’s office released records showing how many times it had received alarming reports about Cruz, 19, over the years — including two that specifically warned he was a potential school shooter.


    The records show that a neighbor called in February 2016 to report that Cruz “planned to shoot up the school” and had posted photos to Instagram of himself posing with guns.


    The information was passed on to Peterson, but it was not clear what, if anything, he did with it.


    Another person phoned the sheriff’s office in November last year to say the teen was stockpiling guns and knives and warn that “he could be a school shooter in the making,” the records show.


    But the caller was told to contact the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office instead because Cruz had moved out of Broward, according to the records.


    In September 2016, a peer counselor told Peterson that Cruz had tried to kill himself by drinking gasoline, was cutting himself, possessed hate symbols and expressed a desire to buy a gun “for hunting.”


    This time, Peterson did make a report, but a mental-health worker determined Cruz didn’t meet the state’s criteria for involuntary commitment to a psychiatric facility, the records show.


    Cruz stayed at the school for another five months before he was transferred out.


    President Trump sharply criticized Peterson on Friday.


    “He trained his whole life. When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn’t have the courage or something happened, but he certainly did a poor job — there’s no question about that,” Trump told a reporter.


    Video, meanwhile, emerged of Peterson touting the value of resource officers like himself during a 2015 school-board meeting.


    “We are crime prevention. An audit report will never show how much we prevent,” he tells the board members, according to the Sun Sentinel.


    Peterson also brags of chasing four people through a school with his gun after the cafeteria alarm went off, and recalls responding to a report of an armed man wearing a ski mask


    “So I ran, put some shorts on, ran out with my firearm, while I’m running to the school, I’m contacting Coconut Creek police, we set up a perimeter,” he said.


    It turned out the miscreant was an 18-year-old senior with a paintball gun.


    https://nypost.com/2018/02/23/four-s...hool-shooting/

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    Quote Originally Posted by artist View Post
    In a desperately poor, dangerous part of town, Memphis Street Academy decided to ditch its metal detectors and focus on supporting students. Violence dropped by 90 percent.
    In the Florida school, the attack came from the outside by a person no longer in that school. However, the hostility he had was greatly born in that school.

    It would take time to turn this problem around! We have a choice, either turn our schools into prisons where students have no experience at dealing with other people or we fix the infection that is the source of our problem.

    I think of a dam breaching during a storm. The first thing you do is throw everything into the breach to try to stop the water. This is only a temporary fix. After the storm we may have to drain the reservoir while we make permanent repairs.

    For now, we must protect the students from the real danger that is. But we must start making the permanent repairs which is police procedures, dealing with mental illness and even regulation of gun sales. Hopefully, eventually, we will again be able to send our children to schools where it is pleasant.

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