EL School Board Formal Resolution: No Guns in Schools

Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 10:46 am
By: 
Karessa Wheeler

On Monday evening, members of the East Lansing Schools Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution opposing all guns in all schools “other than those carried by trained law enforcement.”

“There is absolutely no reason why children in this nation and this State should not be able to go to school every day without being afraid for their lives,” the resolution reads. "[T]he most sacred responsibility of all school boards is do everything in our collective powers to assure that our students are safe each and every day in our schools, so they can learn; and whereas, students cannot be safe unless and until all guns – other than those carried by trained law enforcement officers – are banned from our schools…”

Trustee Nell Kuhnmuench wrote the resolution as a result of conversations following the deaths of seventeen people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The resolution also states that “the East Lansing School Board values our teachers too much to expect them to be armed to protect their students.” (Nationally, some have called for teachers to be armed following the Parkland shooting.)

She also said it is a call to the State Board of Education and the Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction to oppose all guns in all schools and to actively oppose State legislation that would authorize concealed carry of guns in schools while prohibiting school boards from taking local action to prohibit concealed carry in their schools.

The Board had previously resolved to oppose “open carry” guns in East Lansing schools.

All Board members expressed their vocal support of the resolution. Trustee Terah Chambers said she finds it hard to believe that they even need to have such a resolution.

“It is beyond me to try to comprehend why we are even having this conversation but I appreciate you putting together words so thoughtfully,” Chambers said.

The resolution also supports actions taken by “students, teachers, administrators, parents and allies in support of the intent of the East Lansing Walk-out.”

East Lansing High School students are planning to walk out of school on March 14 – the one month anniversary of the Parkland shooting – as part of a national protest. The walkout is being organized by the student groups Students for Gender Equity and Black Student Union and other students. Superintendent Dori Leyko is working with the organizers to make sure “all voices are heard.”

Meanwhile, Leyko said administrators are working with East Lansing Police about what additional security measures can be put into place throughout the District.

“We have security measures planned for our new buildings but we want to assess any other short term measures we can put in place without too much expense or infrastructure,” Leyko said.

New elementary schools will have a wide variety of safety features including more limited access to the building, good views of the main entrance from the administrative office, a flexible system to lock interior and exterior buildings from a central location and increased video cameras both inside and outside the buildings, Leyko said. In addition, she will be asking the new school design team to add additional buttons to control the school lockdown system from locations other than the main office.

Parent Todd Swales asked the Board to add additional card swipe devices to Pinecrest Elementary School doors to further prevent unauthorized entrances into the school. He said it would be a quick and easy way to increase security into the building.