In June, the Norwood Public School’s board of education announced they were considering a measure to arm teachers in the school, since the state allows school staff to conceal carry. The school board released a statement for the public after its June meeting and said it would hold a public meeting and conduct a survey to further the discussion with the community.
On July 5, Judy Muller, a Norwood community member and national journalist, wrote to the board and told them arming teachers was dangerous. She said she disagreed with the proposal and also asked why the meeting and survey have not happened.
Ellen Metrick, a middle school teacher who also leads the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) committee at the school, told The Norwood Post she had concerns. (The MTSS committee typically oversees and vets new initiatives in the district.)
“If we do need to have armed people on campus, as a security measure, then we need to choose a program that is supported by data that works for a school like ours,” she said last week. “And one that is evidence-based and has evidence to show it’s the right program for us.”
Metrick said MTSS looks at five things before adopting any new measure. She said data and evidence are a big part of any new initiative.
“This should go through the MTSSS process, so we know it’s the right program for us, based on other rural schools like us,” she said.
She added that anyone carrying a gun in the school should be trained in social-emotional learning and also de-escalation practices. She said she read a survey that showed some schools had seen more injury than prevention regarding concealed carry by teachers in a school.
Additionally, Metrick said she’d like to see anyone carrying a gun at NPS be vetted and have a psychiatric evaluation.
Andrya Brantingham, the school’s special education director, said she wasn’t opposed to an armed security presence on campus.
"I am highly aware of the trying and tumultuous times we are in as well, as our security nightmare of a campus, so taking precautions to potentially eliminate another injury — or God forbid, death — is, I’m afraid, necessary. What I am against is the process in which the decision is being made, or has already been made, and the potential personnel who will be carrying concealed weapons.”
Brantingham said there is a lot to consider. She hopes the safety and crisis team, along with the board of education, seek input from law enforcement officers and members of the community.
Mandee Shirley, the mother of a recent graduate and a current high school senior, said she is all for arming teachers.
“If someone is willing, able and fully trained, why wouldn’t you support it?” she asked The Norwood Post last week. “Better safe than sorry. Hopefully, it never happens, but it is possible in our little school.”
Shirley said she believes in the saying, “a good guy with a gun is better than a bad guy with a gun.”
“I’m all for trying to avoid it, with all the precautions the school already has in place, but no one ever sees it coming,” she added.
The Norwood Post was informed that the school’s interim superintended, Ken Lawrence, whose term ended in July, completed a concealed carry training for the school already this year. Lawrence has not confirmed that he has completed the training.
The next school board meeting is July 20.