Ignacio School District discusses arming staff with guns

Board also considers hiring resource officer to provide security

The Ignacio School District Board met with community members on Tuesday evening to discuss possible new security measures on campus, including arming teachers and hiring a school resource officer. Enlarge photo

Mia Rupani/Durango Herald

The Ignacio School District Board met with community members on Tuesday evening to discuss possible new security measures on campus, including arming teachers and hiring a school resource officer.

IGNACIO – Ignacio School District aims to ramp up school security after the enactment of the Claire Davis School Safety Act in June.

A passionate group of more than 30 community members attended the Ignacio School District School Board meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss the pros and cons of possible new security measures.

“This process started two years ago with everything happening in the world,” said school board president Robert Schurman. “The board has had meetings with other districts in the area and looked at their policies and the things they do.”

The Claire Davis School Safety Act makes Colorado schools liable for violence, and allows lawsuits to be filed against schools in cases of serious injuries or deaths from violence if the school is accused of negligence.

“If something were to happen, the school would be held liable if we are found negligent of protecting our school and staff,” Schurman said.

The law is named after Claire Davis, who was killed by another student at Arapahoe High School in 2013.

Schurman said some staff members have raised concerns over safety measures at the school.

Following in the footsteps of Dolores County School District, Ignacio is considering arming staff members in case of a violent encounter on campus.

Alternatively, the district could hire a school resource officer to patrol its buildings.

An SRO is a law enforcement officer responsible for providing security and crime-prevention services at schools.

It would cost the district $10,000 to arm one staff member, who would carry a concealed weapon. It has not been decided how many teachers would be armed, if any, but they would receive handgun training at least once per year.

A school resource officer would be identifiable by his or her uniform and would be shared between the city of Ignacio and the school district.

The district would pay $51,000 to hire an SRO, and he or she would work with the district for nine months out of the year and with the Ignacio Police Department for the remaining three months.

“We want everyone to feel safe and know that we will do whatever we can to protect students,” Schurman said.

“We met with the town of Ignacio and the police department. The town has offered to supply an officer.”

Some community members were opposed to arming staff members and preferred the district hire an SRO.

“One concern I have is that I see a lot of the teachers who are ‘harmonizers’ make some of these situations worse,” said Maria Trujillo, who previously worked as a substitute teacher at the district.

“I like these people, but to consider them armed scares me. I’ve seen too many simple situations escalate, and that is what concerns me.”

Board member Yvonne Chapman said there is currently no timeline for a resolution to the issue, and the board will continue to communicate with parents and the community to reach a decision.

“We are not making a decision at the next board meeting,” she said. “This has gathered a lot of information that we will consider as we go along. We have to talk to everybody eventually, and we are getting the ball rolling.”

mrupani@durangoherald.com

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