In the wake of the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., the debate has raged on how to better protect the nation’s children.
For some, stricter gun control laws appear to be the answer. Others want to make sure that teachers and administrators are armed and properly trained with firearms.
For Federal Way Public Schools Superintendent Rob Neu, the choice is clear: There will be no discussion on arming FWPS teachers or administrators.
Neu shared his thoughts with the public during the Jan. 8 school board meeting.
“I hate this conversation, I hate that it’s a necessary evil,” Neu began. “What happened in Newtown…is just horrible. And having young children at home, and sitting and watching the TV, and seeing those photos with the names being called…with your children in the room, looking at the TV, and looking at you, and you’re fighting back the tears. You’re so thankful they’re sitting in that living room with you, and you’re not one of those parents. I can’t imagine what those parents feel like.”
Neu said the proposition of arming teachers and/or administrators is irresponsible.
“To hear the ensuing debate about arming teachers and principals and security guards. I just want to go on the record with the board in saying I think that is one of the most irresponsible positions to take in this gun discussion. But the reality is, if a gunman wants to do what these gunmen want to do…there’s little that anyone can do to stop them. Putting guns in the hands of teachers and principals, who got in this business of educating kids, and not being armed forces…It’s just not a solution, in my mind, and will not be one that comes forward as a recommendation while I’m your superintendent.”
The superintendent said he plans on strengthening the school district’s relationship with the Federal Way Police Department. As it stands right now, police officers are present at the district’s high schools. Known as school resource officers, they wear their full complement of gear while on duty at the schools.
Neu said these officers are better prepared and better trained at dealing with any dangerous situations that may arise.
“I am going to continue our relationship with (FWPD chief) Brian Wilson and our police department, and Skip Priest, our mayor. Because those people are trained to handle those kinds of situations. And what’s really nice, about Federal Way, is where our police are stationed in our schools, our resource officers that are armed and our campuses, they are prepared to react to any of our schools.”
“I just want to assure our community, and assure our board, that we have been working on (preparation) for these situations, these incidents,” he added.
Board president Tony Moore thanked Neu for his comments, adding that in the delicate conversation about how to keep children safe in schools, there is the potential to move too far one way or the other.
“It is our hope not to overreact and cause a widespread panic,” Moore said. “We have those partnerships (with FWPD and the city), we can strengthen those relationships. I know I’ve already received emails of people wanting to arm our fifth-graders, but we can go too far the other way, and really go backward.”