District 203 Board Votes “No” to Arming Teachers

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The District 203 board received resounding applause after voting against a resolution that would support arming teachers or school staff.

“On a personal level, I think that just knowing that guns are in school make me and other students feel anxious and nervous. Students need to feel safe and so do the teachers in order to do their jobs well,” said eighth grader Nathan May.

Dozens of community members came out to the board’s most recent meeting in opposition of the school safety and protection plan resolution, which was presented to the Illinois Association of School Board’s 2018 Resolutions Committee for consideration.

It supports the option for faculty and staff to complete background checks, have an Illinois concealed carry license and complete training courses in order to carry a gun in school.

“This is my 40th year in education. I have been asked to do many things outside my role as a teacher. Some I have agreed with, some I have not. But carrying a firearm into my classroom, I nor my colleagues are willing to do. Nor are we willing to be in a school where other than fully trained police officers are carrying firearms,” said Mark Bailey, the president of the Naperville Unit Education Association.

Similar comments against the resolution were made by eighth grader Peyton Arens, Moms Demand Action representative Holly Blastic, 203 parent Keith Clingman, and a number of emails.

The board commended the 203 community for voicing their concerns, and each board member explained why they couldn’t support the resolution.

“I also am opposed to the resolution,” said Board President Kristen Fitgerald. “I think we have a duty of leadership here. This IASB resolution would send our public policy in a particular direction. So we have a responsibility to oppose it and change that direction.”

The public’s comments will be incorporated in a statement district staff is currently writing up for why they oppose the resolution, which will be presented along with 203’s “no” vote to the IASB at the delegate assembly on November 17.

That’s where IASB will decide whether to approve or deny the resolution based on the votes from all of Illinois’ school districts.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.