Oregon superintendent against armed school personnel

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon City Schools Superintendent Hal Gregory said at a school board meeting on Tuesday that he will not be recommending to the board a policy that would allow teachers and school staff to legally carry firearms onto school grounds.
        Governor Mike DeWine recently signed legislation that would reduce the amount of training that school personnel would need to carry guns into schools. The new law requires at least 24 hours of training. Previously, school personnel were required to have more than 700 hours of instruction.
        “We haven’t had a board discussion on it. I don’t know if we will or even need to. It’s up to the board,” said Gregory. “But as superintendent, I will not be recommending to you any policy that will allow this to occur.”
        He said the school district has a “great partnership” with the Oregon Police Division and the School Resource Officer (SRO) program.”
        The SRO program, which started in the 1998-99 school year, was a joint effort by the Oregon Board of Education and the City of Oregon Police Division to spend time in the schools to develop positive relationships with the students at Clay High School, Eisenhower Intermediate School, and Fassett Jr. High.
        In January, 2019, three SROs were added to the district: They were assigned to Coy, Jerusalem and Starr elementary schools. The officers engage in a variety of activities designed to increase the understanding between the students, the faculty and the law enforcement community.
        Implementing an SRO is one of the top recommendations made to districts to improve safety.
        “It is the number one recommendation to have that in place, which we do. There may be other recommendations that have grown out of the recent tragedy,” said Gregory, referring to the mass shooting and murders of 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas on May 24.
        “We will continue to evaluate and adjust things as we need to. But I wanted to let the public and board know where I was at. We do need a board to pass a policy to implement it. It’s not like it is automatic. I’m not aware of any of my counterparts that are looking to adopt a policy to support this. There are resolutions against it just to make a public stance on their thoughts,” said Gregory.
Checked doors
        Jeff Ziviski, vice president of the school board, asked how often entry doors in the schools are checked to make sure they are locked. The 18-year-old shooter in Uvalde had entered the building through an unlocked side-entrance door.
        “During the school day, not the first in the morning when everyone is going to school and the doors are open, once the official day starts, our doors automatically lock. Every door should be locked. We rarely have a problem unless a kid props it open anywhere during the school day. I feel very confident,” said Gregory. “I don’t say it never happens. We have talked and talked about checking doors forever. I know the high school goes around and checks it. But they can’t be there every minute of every day. After school, we still have people – coaches, after school advisers-that prop doors open to let people in. It’s probably an ongoing battle everywhere we go. But absolutely, when you hear what happened (in Uvalde), with the door propped open, it makes my heart sink to know it could be a possibility that someone will leave it open.”


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