WACS Parent Advocates For Increased School Security, Armed Teachers

WESTFIELD — A Westfield Academy and Central School district parent spoke recently to the board of education, outlining several ideas for increasing school security, including metal detectors, Barracuda classroom door locks and allowing qualified teachers to carry firearms.

Joshua Tunison, who said he represented a coalition of parents, indicated that his remarks were prompted by a recent incident in which a Westfield student allegedly brought a knife to school and threatened another student.

According to a report from the Westfield Police Department, a 13-year-old student was recently charged with third-degree menacing after allegedly bringing a knife to school and making threats to another student.

Tunison said parents have come together to ask why this happened and why parents were not notified of the incident. District Superintendent David Davison told Tunison, “I think you’re right about that. Ultimately I erred in not getting the word out,” Davison said. “That will change in the future.”

Tunison said the parents do not believe that passing legislation to get rid of guns is the answer, nor is having one school resource officer, who may be a rookie, stationed in the school.

Tunison went on to say that “every school shooting has been perpetrated by someone with mental illness, someone with a motivation and someone who has a plan.”

Parents have banded together and discussed the possible funding of devices to quickly secure all classrooms, Tunison said. He showed school board members pictures of the Barracuda Intruder Defense System, which is designed to keep classrooms safe in the event of an active shooter situation.

Tunison also told the board that parents want the district to install metal detectors at the front door.

“If the parents are willing to purchase the door locks, we call upon the school board to put metal detectors at the entrance,” he said.

Furthermore, Tunison said, “we need to give those protecting our children the option of possessing concealed weapons.” He said that parents want “to help provide a safe and secure environment for our children.”

Across the nation, school districts are debating the viability of qualified, properly trained teachers carrying concealed weapons, including President Donald Trump, who is a strong advocator for such a proposal.

Tunison claimed that 10 to 40 percent of teachers have training with firearms. Since districts across the nation are deliberating about the possibility of teachers carrying concealed weapons, Tunison said many Westfield parents think select teachers should be trained as a crisis response team.

Tunison also told the board that “we need better mental health control and we need to hold the parents responsible. Kids are not being punished for their wrong-doing. The epidemic in America is not guns, it is irresponsible parenting,” he added.

Tunison said that students should not be permitted to talk about and glorify the violence they perpetrate in video games. He said that last week President Trump stated “something has to be done because the level of violence on video games is shaping more and more people’s thoughts.”

Tunison said the members of the parent coalition in Westfield want school administrators to “stop kids from talking about video games at school.”

Davison and board president Steve Cockram said all of the parents’ suggestions will be considered. Davison also noted that the State Police review the district’s emergency response procedures.

“They also review our lock down and lock out procedures,” he said.