Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Seattle School Board to Discuss Resolution on Gun Safety

It's at today's Work Sessions.  The Resolution has been put forward by the entire Board.  They will apparently be taking action on it at the Work Session.

A RESOLUTION of the Board of Directors of Seattle School District No. 1, King County, Seattle, Washington to declare support for sensible gun safety legislation, declare opposition to efforts to arm educators in our schools, and declare support of the March for Our Lives on March 24, 2018.

This resolution states the School Board’s position in three areas:
1) Supporting sensible gun safety legislation in the areas listed in the resolution
2) Opposing any efforts to arm educators in classrooms as a solution to gun violence in schools; and
3) Endorsing the student-led March for Our Lives on March 24, 2018.
I loudly applaud the Board for their willingness to step up, be counted and probably save lives in our schools.

I'm not sure if their endorsement of the March for our Lives means it's district-sanctioned but I expect the district will have their own statement about the march.


Anonymous said...

Talk is cheap Seattle School Board. What is your plan for evaluating and funding recommended safety improvements for each SPS school? My kid goes to an older school where anyone can walk off the street through the unlocked front door, walk past the front office and have complete and unfettered access to all the kids and staff.

Mad Dad

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mad Dad, what I would suggest - to hold the district to this commitment - is to lobby for BEX V to include safety updates for school security.

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa

Many of these common sense upgrades (refreshed classroom and all school emergency supplies, security grates on first floor windows/doors, locking mechanisms for classroom doors so teachers dont have to exit the classroom to lock the door from the outside with their keys) can be done for relatively low cost. I know of a south end school that had a camera & buzzer access system added to the front door of their school within a year of making the request of SPS.

I know that each school has different levels of access to SPS and PTA funds to make these changes but if there is one type of fundraising event that would get school and general community support it would be for school security. My kid will be out of SPS by the time BEX V is implemented so I'd recommend the parent communities around each school mobilize to push this issue from the ground up to affect change now.

Mad Dad

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I hear you.

When Roosevelt was being renovated, somehow they did not put in security cameras. I, as a co-president, was outraged but I was told the building planning team didn't think they needed them.

The principal at the time, Brian Vance, and I were not so happy and neither was Pegi McEvoy who was the head of security. I testified at least 4-5 times to the Board, telling them if anything happened, it was their burden to bear.

Eventually, it got done with cameras inside and out. When the Cafe Racer shooting event was going on, I went to the school (I live close-by). There were police around the building as well as SPS security. I waved to the RHS security guy I knew and asked how he liked the cameras. He said, "Today, we are very glad for them."

Not only did RHS have their students, they had a couple of classes of 4th/5th graders there to see the school musical.

There's a reason we do these things because yes, things happen. We want the police to have the best opportunity to come knowing what is happening (not guessing).

I think between school shootings and earthquakes, SPS may be on borrowed time. I hope not.

RememberNisqually said...

Melissa you are spot on with calling out the earthquakes. How quickly the news cycles move on...


Bubba said...

I wonder how many students and/or schools across the district will be participating in the March 14th student walkout? https://www.actionnetwork.org/event_campaigns/enough-national-school-walkout

Anonymous said...

I would never advocate for arming classroom teachers and agree it is a bad idea.

But I would not be opposed to having a gun safe or two or three located within a school if an experienced, well-trained, authorized staff or teacher, such as ex-military, or ex-first responder could have the option of intervening and intercepting an active shooter to save lives.

In mass shooting after mass shooting, it takes police about 9 minutes, on average, to respond, and several more minutes to assess the situation and locate a shooter. So a typical active shooter has about 15 to 20 minutes to kill as many people as they can. And the numbers keep climbing.

We should do everything we can to keep guns and mass shooters out of our schools. But once inside, given that most schools are "gun free zones," there is nothing to stop an active shooter until outside help arrives, and many additional lives are lost in those critical minutes.

I'm guessing about 90% of the people who post here are vehemently opposed to this suggestion, or any suggestion that involves defensive weaponry being available to anyone in our schools. In theory, I don't like the idea, either. But do I honestly think it could've or would've saved many lives in Connecticut and Florida? Yes, I do.

Then again, I grew up with guns and was trained by military men, policemen, county deputies, and responsible, well-trained gun owners, most of whom served in the military overseas, and during a time when people, especially young people, did not fetishize guns as some great "equalizer" like so many wing nuts do today.

There are many steps we can and should take, but I would not take "hardening the target" off the table, given it's potential to save additional lives, versus the fear that it would lead to more gun violence and death.


Eric B said...

@WSDWG While I appreciate the sentiment, in mass shooting after mass shooting there are armed police or security officers on site who are unable to stop the shooting despite being armed, trained, and having weapons more available than in a central gun safe.

The case of Chris Kyle is instructive. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/02/13/first-days-of-american-sniper-murder-trial-leave-questions-unanswered/?utm_term=.33645eeb6e06 Kyle was a former Navy Seal who, with another veteran friend, took a third veteran to a shooting range. Both Kyle and his friend were armed and aware that the third man was dangerous, and yet he still got the drop on both and killed them both. Neither Kyle nor his friend were able to draw or take the safeties off of their guns. If that can happen to combat veterans who know they're in a dangerous situation, it's hard to believe that weekend warrior teachers or school administrators could do much good.

Patrick said...

WSDWG, rather than that, maybe only a single entrance to the school with a metal detector and a guard at that door. I don't really like that idea either, but it seems more likely to help. I wouldn't want the gun safes to be in the classroom because of the chance of an unauthorized person opening them, but if the trained, authorized persons are teachers, they'd have to leave their classrooms unattended when a shooting happened to go get their gun.

Anonymous said...

@Eric B: I don't think the Kyle situation, nor many other anecdotes I'm reading and hearing in the news are instructive to what I'm talking about in a mass shooting within an institutional setting like a school, hospital, or large corporate office. I would equate the Kyle situation much closer to the Long Island Railway shooter from about 15 years ago, who suddenly pulled out a gun and started shooting people in the train car. That surprise element expires in these mass shooting situations in the first 5 minutes or so.

This is stuff people don't like to imagine or talk about, but I'm focusing on the second wave of shooting attacks that we've seen happen in the 5 to 20 minute time period after the shooting starts, and until law enforcement locates and engages or traps a shooter. We've lost a lot of additional lives over the past few years during these secondary time periods where mass shooters have trapped people inside buildings and classrooms where they are proverbial sitting ducks. And we've already seen teachers sacrifice their own bodies and lives to protect students, so despite the MSM's questions and portrayals, the fact is that many employees, teachers and staff have willingly put themselves in harm's way to protect students, so we know there are many courageous enough to respond under the most dire and dangerous circumstances.

Can we not ask ourselves whether the Teacher and Football coach who sacrificed himself in Florida might have either lived or saved additional lives had he or someone else been able to shoot back at the mass shooter while standing in harm's way?

We'll hear and read much about the confused or "cowardly LEO" outside the Florida school building while the shooter was inside, but can we learn anything from that experience to either thwart or decrease the likelihood of another copycat shooting?

And can we honestly say, with 100% confidence, that a potential mass shooter might not think twice about shooting up a building if he knows he might be taken down in the first few minutes by a responding shooter inside the building? We know deterrents work, as evidenced by every bank you walk into. Do they still get robbed? Yes. But as much as they would without security measures and armed guards? We all believe not and act accordingly.

Ideally, the knowledge alone that a building has trained, capable responders inside, with access to arms, would be enough deterrent to persuade a potential shooter not to attempt a mass shooting, and nobody ever has to open a gun safe or deploy a weapon.


Anonymous said...

Lots of common sense things schools can do listed here, as well as questions parents should ask their schools.


From the article:

"School leaders often face political pressure to do something tangible — such as installing surveillance cameras — that parents and the community can easily see, Trump says, versus investing in behind-the-scenes training. “It’s harder to point to [the process of] adults building relationships with kids; improved counseling and mental health support; regular planning and cross-training with first responders; diversified lockdown, evacuation, fire and other drills; [and] proactive communications strategy with parents and the community — all of which truly make schools safer.”

Investing in effective discipline and anti-bullying programs that affect school climate plays a key role in school safety, too, experts point out.

However, schools can take measures to improve safety that don’t carry hefty price tags: limiting the number of open doors at school, training staff on visual weapons inspection techniques, encouraging teachers to teach with a locked classroom door and to walk in hallways in the middle or rear of a student line (versus at the head) in order to reduce fights and move students more quickly in case of emergency."

Anonymous said...

BTW: The Trump cited in the Parent Map article is NOT President Trump; it's Kenneth Trump, a national school security expert.

Anonymous said...

One problem with locked doors and single entrances is schools with portable classrooms. Portables are access problems in general; students need to be able to easily move from them to the main building and back.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I cannot go for guns in schools despite WSDWG’s compelling writing.

1) But there are silent alarms in banks and people with guns and yet banks still got robbed.

2) The officer there did nothing. If he had been inside the building, hard to say. But I’d a handgun anything against a semi-automatic gun? No. You would have to be a great shot or get lucky.

I have two reasons for opposing guns in schools.

1). What can happen if a teacher/staff member is distracted or upset. We saw a deputy at a school for Sped kids who had a kid reach in his holster and the gun went off. Yesterday a high-school went mental and barricaded himself in a classroom with a gun. A student nearly got shot. An elementary teacher leaves her gun in the bathroom. And so on.

2) Are we so trained now to believe that we accept this violence? Not me. It isn’t this way in other countries (who do have stronger gun laws) and it wasn’t this way when I was growing up. Why was I entitled to a safe school career but not kids today?

There is more to be done but arming schools is not one of them.

Brian Duncan said...

@WSDWG: On the deterrence issue, here is a refuting point of view from a Sandy Hook parent who has likely thought long and deeply about this:
“… a deranged sociopath on his way to commit an act of murder in a school knowing the outcome is going to be suicide is not going to care if there’s somebody there with a gun. That’s their plan anyway.” Mark Barden, Sandy Hook massacre Dad, in response to Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers in response to school massacres such as at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland Fl.

Your other point about giving teachers and administrators a fighting chance (by allowing them to have guns handy in the office or classroom) to take down a shooterin the "second wave" of an attack, after the period of surprise is over, but before law enforcement can confront, I think is more compelling than the deterrence theory. You have plenty of company in feeling this way. According to 2017 Pew polling, 45% of adults are sympathetic to allowing teachers and administrators to be armed. However, it may be more wishful thinking than practical, in perhaps most cases. There have now been so many examples of these massacres where armed, trained "good guys with guns" were present but unable to stop the mayhem, that the theory, compelling as it is, seems to be undercut by actual empirical experience, though I guess since only relatively small numbers of teachers, admin, and school resource officers are currently armed, one could argue the jury is still out.

We also have this: “The presence of armed teachers at schools "could easily cause additional chaos and fatalities," said Linda Beigel Schulman, whose son, geography teacher Scott Beigel, died in the Parkland shooting. If a school comes under attack from a shooter, "with the ongoing chaos, law enforcement could unintentionally shoot at a teacher," she said, adding that her son became a teacher to teach, "not to be a law enforcement officer."

And we have the concern that students and teachers and even other LEOs of color would likely be put a much greater risk of getting accidentally, or negligently, shot by law enforcement in the chaos of a response to a shooter where teachers and/or admin are armed.

So, on balance, I find more compelling reasons to certainly not require, nor probably even even allow, willing teachers and administrators to carry, or store guns in classrooms and offices in schools. If they are allowed, trained, armed, etc., maybe some will feel less helpless and vulnerable, though it might be a false sense of security that lulls us to not fight hard enough for more effective measures. Maybe once in a while, it will prove effective, which would be great, but not as great as more effective prevention.

Anonymous said...

Putting guns in schools for "safety" is akin to the argument that having guns in homes for protection is a net safety measure...when in reality guns in the home are more frequently associated with accidents and suicides than protection from intruders. More guns in schools increases the likelihood of gun accidents at schools, and potentially increases access to guns for troubled teens who don't have access to them at home. Anyone who follows other school safety issues (e.g., unauthorized releases of protected student data, failures re: assault/abuse prevention, lax enforcement of overnight fieldtrip guidelines, volunteer clearance breaches, etc.) knows there are always breakdowns in the various guidelines and procedures and accidents (and negligence) happen all the time. To think that when it comes to more guns in the schools that would not be the case is absurd. What happens already with guns in homes should be our warning re: what's likely to happen in schools.

On top of that, there's the whole "death by cop" idea. Like @Brian Duncan said, the idea that most of these shooters want to survive is silly. They fully intent to be killed (or kill themselves) as part of their rampage, so armed teachers won't be a deterrent. It might even be an enticement--what better way to get back at a teacher you didn't like than by forcing them to endure the lifelong trauma of having shot one of their students?

horrible idea

Eric B said...

OK, WSDWG, here are a couple of very specific examples. There was an armed off-duty cop on the premises who traded fire with the shooter. 49 died. The Manadalay Bay hotel in Vegas had armed security on premises. 57 died and hundreds injured.

During the Gabby Giffords shooting, a bystander who got the gun away from the shooter was very nearly shot by an armed civilian who was shopping at the store. Only intervention by other bystanders saved him. Tamir Rice was shot about 10 seconds after cops rolled up to the park was in. A teacher with a gun will be assumed to be the shooter by police and is likely to meet the same fate. Not to mention Philando Castile was a teacher with a concealed carry license who apparently did everything right in telling the cop who stopped him that he had a gun. Didn't save his life either.

Or heck, just look at the teacher in Georgia who went off the rails yesterday and fired out the window as the principal was trying to get into his classroom. What if he was the one licensed to carry in the school?

Then there are logistical issues. Let's assume the gun safe is going to be in the school office or a trusted teacher's classroom. What happens when the shooting starts at the other end of the building? How likely is it that students will flee the armed teacher coming to their "rescue" and head back into danger form the shooter?

Based on evidence of past incidents, I don't believe that more guns are the answer.

Anonymous said...

As long as you live in a country that has this insanity about gun ownership, and the pattern of school shootings is now a virus that that has become an epidemic, you really have a situation where having no armed person at the school to combat the threat allows a daily unacceptable risk to students. I'm against arming teachers, however.

This is the result of a sick society. Taking a knife (or nothing) to a (literal gunfight) is naive in the extreme. Going to church is a choice. School attendance is mandatory.

The fact that SPS has not addressed the earthquake threat is probably the worst example of malpractice they have ever demonstrated.

The fact that they have allowed free access to parents (and others) for years, open doors throughout, lack of mandatory sign-ins, locks, cameras, etc,-- and a carelessness about basic safety protocols in schools, is tied for first place.

About Time

Anonymous said...

The doors were locked at Sandy Hook. The shooter shot out a window. Do you want bars on windows?

The Florida shooter came when school was getting out. How can you possibly defend against a shooter who shows up when school's getting out?

Let's get guns restricted first, banned second.

It's like the ozone layer. The world didn't decide to give everyone sunscreen, they stopped using fluorocarbons.

When smog was choking Californians they restricted emissions, they didn't issue gas masks.


Anonymous said...

again about time your comments are so daft. duh. earthquakes. but every school i have been in has no single entrance. in fact tms, wms, hims, stevens, old cascadia and jams make it very easy to sneak in to any bldg.

all of those bldgs have been protected from a moderate/real geological event. there is nothing for a shooting event. nothing may sound over wrought. the reality is that even with nisqually just aside us, we are more likely to lose a kid to school violence than earthquakes.


tell durkan - tell sup nyland - tell your neighbor kids

no caps

Patrick said...

Drowning deaths take more than either earthquakes or shootings.

Anonymous said...

Nuclear weapons haven't directly killed ANYONE for over 70 years.

Why are they illegal?

Fatty foods kill millions per year in the US. Make veganism mandatory!!!!

Guns don't kill any more than bombs do. Why are bombs illegal?

Cars should be banned as well as water.

Save Lives

Brian Duncan said...

@gamma: well said, terrific analogies.

A commenter on Daily Kos today has an astute take on why the articulate Parkland Fl MSD HS students are succeeding moving the needle toward reigning in NRA terrorizing us all:

"In other words, the NRA thought they could walk in and mow them all down with spokesmen and lobbyists, but found themselves among classrooms full of students who were already way better armed. Students who were given or taught to forge the kinds of weapons that can’t be taken away, the kinds that sharpen with use. Students who were trained to use them under pressure."
Truthor, Daily Kos, 3-2-18

Another opinion on why this seems to becoming a tipping point:

…[T]here's an accumulation of sorrow…children are getting, you know, slaughtered in our schools. I mean, and it's not just the kids. Places of worship. People going to country music concerts. We're allowing ourselves to be terrorized by, in essence, by our neighbors.
-John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado, NPR, March 27, 2018

Anonymous said...

@horrible idea: Even in a suicide by cop situation typical of mass shooters' plans, reducing the number of people who get shot is a worthwhile goal. I hear that "what can you do?" rhetorical point constantly, and it completely ignores many interventions and strategies that can be employed after the shooting starts to save lives and reduce carnage. We cannot say with certainty whether a shooter would be discouraged or encouraged by knowing people in the building had access to arms, but we can say that lives could be saved if a mass shooter was stopped earlier in the process than later, and in that case, the discussion revolves around how to intervene. I'm not comfortable with the notion that if a guy with an AR shows up at my kids school and starts shooting people, there's nothing anyone can do for the first 20+ minutes to stop him because he knows he'll probably die anyway. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

@Brian Duncan: Respectfully, the Sandy Hook parent's opinion doesn't refute the point I've made. It's a thoughtful and respectable opinion, but no more factual or demonstrable than proving the existence of God.

My point, in light of all commentary, is that we need to presume these shootings can happen anywhere, and will, and therefore need to put better plans in place should the worst case scenario ever come to be. Like I wrote earlier, nobody likes to think about these things happening to our own kids, but we can't live in denial that the possibility exists, regardless. So, as we debate gun bans and reducing violence in society, often in the abstract, we also need to think about what we could and should do, right now, if something like the Parkland shooting happened at our child's school.

There's no better insurance than being prepared. Unfortunately, it's the world we live in. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Let's take the Aurora Colorado theatre shooter.

He had full body armor. The Florida shooter had body armor and a gas mask and smoke grenades.

These guys love guns, they love the tech gear and they usually want to die.

So they will just buy more body armor and kill the teachers who have guns.

And then the teachers who survive and have their guns on them will get shot by the police like this guy who was gunned down by the cops after he disarmed a shooter in a church in Amarillo.


It was not covered in the news because it happened on the same day as the Parkland shooting.

If somebody wants to kill students with a gun they will do it.

The quick solution is to bring in the military, like in Israel and disarm the public, like in Israel.


Until gun access is restricted dramatically we will have more and more shootings. We have 300+ million guns in private hands. They aren't going away and we can't make our kids go to fortresses. School shooters research their targets and know how to kill students if the want to do so.


Anonymous said...

Patrick-not the best comparison as one can prevent drowning by learning to swim-one cannot learn to be bullet proof. -TeacherMom

Brian Duncan said...

Here is the resolution passed by the Ballard High School PTSA last Thursday:

Ballard High School Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) Resolution: Enough Gun Violence

Whereas, National PTA, WSPTA, local PTA groups, and Seattle Public School Board have advocated for a variety of measures to address gun violence;

Therefore, be it resolved that the BHS PTSA Board joins the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors in its Resolution 2017/18-17 Supporting Sensible Gun Safety Legislation, other local PTA groups, the WA State and National PTA, in demanding that Washington State and the federal government adopt legislation to accomplish the following policy goals:

-Re-enact a federal ban, and enact a WA state ban on the sale and possession of military-style assault weapons without further unconscionable delay, and meanwhile require universal background checks, attainment of age 21, and a license to purchase a firearm, including assault weapons until they are banned.
-Push back on misguided proposals to arm teachers and administrators. Such proposals would be ineffective as a deterrent, and impractical to stop a shooter in most cases. This is a law enforcement function, not the purview of educators.
-Lift any ban on research that studies the causes and effects of gun violence.

Be it further resolved that the BHS PTSA Board, in accord with SPS Resolution 2017/18-17 and applicable attendance policies, supports the organized solidarity events including the 17-Minute National School Walkout event planned for Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 10:00 am in honor of MSD HS, Parkland, FL students, the March for Our Lives Seattle Sister march, scheduled for 10:00 am, Saturday, March 24, 2018, and District sanctioned solidarity activities on the National Day of Action Against Gun Violence in Schools, scheduled for Friday, April 20, 2018
Approved by the BHS PTSA Board of Directors on March 1, 2018

Anonymous said...

I think it is bizarre that my child's school (yes, Garfield) did not do hold any kind of conversation around exactly WHAT should be done in the event of a school shooting after these recent events. There was some "processing of feelings" that went on in some classrooms, but nothing of any real practical use. It's impossible to imagine what a actual school shooting would actually feel like in the heat of the moment, and the confusion and terror that must take over everyone's minds, so it seems incredibly important that both teachers and students have crystal clear, actionable steps to follow to help save lives.

Why hasn't this been done? There are protocols out there that schools can adapt to their individual use, taking into account different school sizes, building types, levels of security, etc.

Until gun laws change, it seems to me that Garfield, as well as all schools everywhere, should hold these conversations and practice these drills, just as they practice fire drills.

Also, crystal clear guidelines should be established at all schools in the event of perceived threats by students, staff, or anyone else. The Garfield student informed his teacher of such a threat, and she "nervously laughed" but did nothing. That was a mistake that should never have happened. If it was written into teachers' job contracts that such information must be acted upon IMMEDIATELY, and both teachers and students have clear instructions on exactly how to proceed and who to inform, I think that teacher would have gone straight to the administration, as the student himself eventually did (and kudos to him for it).


Anonymous said...

parent, did you not receive this email? Sent Feb 28.

Please join members of the Garfield Community on Thursday, March 8 at 6:30p in the Commons to discuss Safety and Security at Garfield and how we can all help to keep the community safe. You will have the opportunity to submit questions and concerns to our panel. Panel members will include individuals from the District Security Office, SPD and Garfield Administration.

Thank you!

Ted Howard