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Leechburg Area will be hiring armed guard for district complex

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 7:23 a.m.

The Leechburg Area School District is moving forward with hiring a guard for the district's complex in Leechburg.

The district is looking to hire a retired police officer, who would be armed, Superintendent James Budzilek said.

While board member Anthony Shea suggested veterans could be considered for the job, there is nothing in state regulations that would allow for former or retired military to be accepted, said Tim Eller, a spokesman with the state Department of Education.

β€œIn all cases, a school police officer is either (a) retired or former Pennsylvania State Police trooper or local municipal police officer,” Eller said.

The school board approved having district administration and legal counsel move forward with hiring a guard.

Budzilek said that Solicitor Bob Cinpinski is reviewing state regulations and that he has contacted the Education Department for information on how to proceed.

β€œI also contacted neighboring districts for information,” he said.

Budzilek said the district will seek applicants for the position, which is expected to be filled for the 2013-14 school year.

Leechburg Area is following in the steps of Butler Area and South Butler school districts, which got court permission for retired troopers already patrolling their schools to carry firearms, days after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in December.

Administrators considered a school resource officer with Leechburg police and looked at the arrangement the Apollo-Ridge School District has for one with Kiski Township.

Hiring a retired officer was preferred because it would cost less and the district would have more flexibility with the person's scheduling and duties. A retired officer is expected to cost Leechburg Area about $25,000 a year.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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