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DeKalb School District 428 Board opposes arming teachers, OKs SRO funding in split vote

DeKALB – The DeKalb School District 428 Board voted unanimously against arming teachers in schools, but approved, by a split vote, lobbying for state legislation that would provide grants to school districts to hire additional school resource officers.

“Can we also keep in mind what day and time we live in?” asked board member David Seymour, who opposed the SRO funding. “As a person of color, I just need to say, policemen are trained to a certain standard. But yet, who is it that disproportionately gets the attention? I take a personal stake in this.”

The board debated Tuesday on a number of measures, part of a handful of resolutions for which the Illinois Association of School Boards is assessing statewide support so they can lobby to turn the proposed policies into law in Springfield. A resolution that would have supported allowing teachers to have concealed-carry weapons in district buildings was unanimously opposed by the board.

The board was divided, however, on whether to support lobbying for grants to help districts that may not be able to afford SROs, financial assistance that would also benefit DeKalb schools. Some said armed police officers do not have proper training. A 5-2 vote passed in support of the SRO resolution, with Sarah Moses and Seymour opposed.

District 428 Superintendent Jamie Craven said he would be disappointed if the board didn’t support the SRO measure.

Craven referenced a May 2018 shooting at Dixon High School where an expelled senior walked into a gym full of seniors practicing for graduation and began shooting, and a school resource officer returned fire, incapacitating the shooter.

“How do you think Dixon schools are going to vote on this topic?” Craven said. “If they hadn’t had an SRO who was in the building, who responded immediately, there could have been a potential mess over there. And our relationship here with our SROs, I just can’t imagine working here without the three of them.”

Craven said the flipside is if there were to be an emergency in schools without an SRO, a 911 call would bring in armed police officers anyway, who have no relationship with the children or staff. District 428 SROs are also DeKalb police officers.

District 428 school resource officer Detective Aaron Lockhart said DeKalb officers go through a 40-hour special training.

“We want the kids to be able to come to us,” Lockhart said. “We want the kids to be able to tell teachers and staff there’s going to be a fight, someone brought a knife or somebody’s smoking in the bathroom. So we do go through that training on how to relate with kids.”

Moses said she would be in favor of the legislation if it mandated all SROs in districts must go through special training.

“My concern is that they’re not all receiving that type of training,” Moses said. “And then you’ve got officers with all kinds of feelings and beliefs.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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