Freeport Area to ask to arm school guard
A Freeport Area School District guard could be armed as early as May.
The school district will ask county judges in Armstrong and Butler, which the district spans, for permission for its in-house police officer to carry a gun while on duty.
Although the decision came the same day that a student went on a stabbing rampage at Franklin Regional High School, the school board's action on Wednesday was not in reaction to it, school board President Daniel Lucovich said. He said it had been in the works for months.
“It can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone. Unfortunately, schools seem to be targets for some reason,” Lucovich said. “Our focus is to prepare the school as well as we can.”
The board approved a job description for its new director of school safety. The district in February hired Robert Lizik, a retired state police major, to fill the position.
In addition to being armed, Lizik would be empowered to issue summary citations and detain people until local police are notified.
He would be required to wear a badge with the words “School Police, Freeport Area School District.”
Lucovich expects a quick response from the courts.
“We don't think the judges will hold that up,” he said.
Board member Mark Shoaf, who voted against the job description, opposes arming the officer, saying it creates only an “illusion of safety,” while not actually increasing it. The presence of a gun has never been a deterrent to violence in schools, he said.
Resident Terry Berg-bigler said he agreed with Shoaf. He said he's concerned about the large gym bags students now carry, and what could be in them.
“Shouldn't some of this start at home?” Bergbigler said. “Things do happen today. We live in a different world than 50 years ago. It's a shame.
“The district has to do mom and dad's job,” he said. “It's not right.”
Resident Scott Speer said that although the district has anti-bullying policies, too often reports of bullying are labeled as “he said, she said,” and nothing is done. Or, if something is done, the victim of bullying is the one disciplined.
Speer said the board should be sure its directives on bullying are getting down to teachers, who don't ignore it.
“Somebody has to be hearing this and seeing this,” Speer said.
Board member Barbara Toy-Gaydos said part of Lizik's job will be to train teachers and increase communication among them so they talk about what they see in students.
“A kid does not snap overnight,” Toy-Gaydos said.
While schools statistically are the safest place for children to be — with home sometimes being the least safe — the district can not guarantee that no one will ever be hurt, Shoaf said.
The district should provide more resources and training, and be more proactive instead of reactive, Shoaf said.
“It's a different world. We've got to look out for each other,” Lucovich said. “You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Stretch of Freeport Road rezoned
- 7 in custody after New Kensington drug raid
- Parents of duct-taped Highlands student don’t want charges
- Tarentum’s Central Presbyterian celebrates its rich history
- Harrison woman dead in 3-car crash in Natrona Heights