Jamestown School Board President Paul Abbott called for more action from elected officials on gun control in the wake of recent school shooting in Texas.
Following a moment of silence for the 21 victims of the school shooting in Texas, Abbott, speaking at the school board meeting Tuesday, encouraged political leaders at the state and federal levels to do something, “It’s just absurd that these things continue to happen in this country. It’s absurd that people have access to military-grade body armor. I was a police officer and I didn’t have military-grade body armor. The assault weapons that we allow people to possess and allow people to sell.”
Abbott criticized the officials who aren’t willing to support change, “And for politicians who can’t make changes in that and in our mental health system, I would ask them to stand in a classroom with second and third graders and their parents and explain to them why it’s more important for people to have access to these sorts of things than it is to protect them.”
Abbott added that despite the budget already being passed, he’d like the board to discuss before next school year the possibility of adding more “red shirt” safety officials in the building or School Resource Officers.
In regards to the recent incident where a fourth grader made a threat against another student at Ring School in addition to recent times where schools had “lockout” situations, Superintendent Dr. Kevin Whitaker said the district is in a “state of heightened concern.”
He said the increased attention from the media and social media can sometimes cause others to act out, “And this is the case, and I stay in touch with lots of superintendents across the state, this is the case across the state. There have been numerous events of this kind all the way across the state from Long Island to Jamestown. And it’s an unfortunate fact of our society that there are some individuals who would engage in behavior that would cause a school to go into lockout or have to have conversations with parents about this sort of thing.”
Whitaker said, however, he always errs on the side of caution, “So if we had to do something that turned out to not to be necessary, I would do that a thousand times rather than miss the one time we should have done something and we didn’t.”
Whitaker, in response to questions raised by a parent during privilege of the floor about why no information was provided about the status of a student who made a threat against Ring Elementary School earlier this week, said the district under Federal privacy law cannot legally disclose information when it comes to student records and information, “So for example, in a disciplinary matter relating to a school incident, the school is not allowed to disclose what happens with that student. And that has led to understandable frustration if you’re unaware of this. We would love to calm fears by releasing information, but that is illegal. It’s not something we’re allowed to do.”
Whitaker said the district is still in the process of debriefing with District School Safety Advisor Brad Meyers leading the process to determine what further strategies and systems to implement. He added the second School Resource Officer who will be working in elementary school buildings in the Fall was already at Ring school Monday working with students.