DeKalb School Resource Officers are in Place to Protect Students from Whom?
When I enter my child's middle school here in DeKalb I am first greeted by a nice gentleman waiting for me at the front door. He usually wears khaki pants and a polo shirt. Oh, and he wears a Glock as well. I think that is awesome. I know that the first person seen by anyone visiting my kid's school has at least 15 rounds on his hip, a mere 5-pound trigger pull away. Hopefully his magazine is filled with Corbon's DPX ammo. Some may be offended by the visual of an armed-guard at a school (but not offended when seeing this at the bank or courtroom), but they should not be offended. They should feel better knowing there is at least one line of defense at the school. Buzzer systems are a start, but if a guy carrying an AK can piggyback in the buzzed door then obviously it's not an ideal solution.
The kids and staff at Ronald McNair Discovery Learning Academy did not have such a greeter at their door. In DeKalb the school resource officers are at middle schools and high schools. Most elementary schools do not have resource officers; they are protected by the PTA mom pressing (or not) a buzzer.
So the question about school resource officers - are they there to protect people in the school from outsiders or from those already in the building? Today's middle school kids are big and strong, and the high school kids are bigger and stronger. No way can that 9th grade language arts teacher break up a fight between two 240-pound 17 year-old young men. Nor should they. Thus the school resource officers being placed in middle and high schools, not the elementary schools. School resource officers in DeKalb, Cobb, Atlanta, and everywhere else see plenty of action. Bad kids are everywhere and an armed government agent is needed to protect those not old enough to properly protect themselves.
There is a legitimate need for school resource officers to protect students from the bad guys within (at the middle school and high school), but what about protecting our youngest and most vulnerable from the bad guys outside the building? Do we need more than Sally's mom manning the buzzer at the front door?
After the school shooting in Newtown the NRA called for armed guards at all schools. I agree 100%. We have armed guards protecting our money, our judges, our bank tellers, our elected officials, but not our children (when they are in an elementary school).
Michael Thurmond, DeKalb's school superintendent, needs to find funds to put school resource officers at all schools, including elementary schools.
Mr. Thurmond has armed guards at the central office (The Palace). These guards are protecting Mr. Thurmond and staff from whom? Are they protecting Thurmond from a disgruntled central office employee? No. He wants protection from people outside the building. How can Superintendent Thurmond sit behind armed guards at the central office while 6 year-olds are protected by the PTA mom armed with a #2 pencil and a nail file?
I recall when a former female superintendent from DeKalb came to speak to a group of parents at Dunwoody High School. She had four armed guards escort her in and out of the building. The mommy brigades can be intimidating, but four armed guards? Well, that's how they roll in DeKalb.
The incident at McNair Learning Center ended without anyone being physically harmed (except the lady's car containing garden fertilizer) not because DeKalb had any person or program in place. It seems as the lady in the front office did a wonderful job deescalating the situation. She will probably be rewarded with a couple of furlough days and no payment into her retirement account later this year, but that's another story.
Superintendent Thurmond, please put armed resource officers at the elementary schools as soon as possible. If you deserve armed guards at your place of work, then so do the kids in your care at all the schools in DeKalb.
We can't prevent all bad things from happening, but a single resource officer at each school would be an improvement. Until there is a trained and armed person at each school, DeKalb does not have a Safe Schools program.
And let's not call them 'resource officers'. How about 'armed guards' or 'protectors' or something not so politically correct.
Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education, is having a video chat with the DeKalb School Board and the Superintendent to discuss the Ronald McNair Discovery Learning Academy incident. According to published reports Secretary Duncan wants to discuss the District's Safe Schools Plan.
We have a preview of this event:
Sec. Duncan (SD): Hello everyone, I am Secre......
Michael Thurmond (MT): Hello Mister Secretary. I am Michael Thurmond. We are doing a great job here in Dekalb. SACS loves me.
MT: SACS! They love me.
SD: No, my question is, who is this speaking?
MT: It's me, Michael Thurmond. I am the superintendent here in DeKalb. I put in place a 90 day plan, and was very successful.
SD: Okay, whatever. So about this guy and a gun at your scho......
MT: We are working with SACS to get our accreditation back. I may need some more Race to the Botto.., I mean Race to the Top federal dollars or maybe some AYP money to get things on track here. I am working to erase the north/south divide. Just last week I sent learning cottages to Vanderlyn.
SD: Learning Cottages?
MT: Yep, eight of them. Great kids up there in north DeKalb. They deserve trailer... I mean learning cottages. They really bump those test scores up, you know what I mean? I am working for all the children of DeKalb, black and white, and everyone else too.
SD: So tell me about your Safe Schools policy
MT: Michael Thurmond here Mister Secretary. The Palace... I mean our central office, it has metal detectors, several armed guards to keep me safe. We have 15 new cars that have a flex-fuel option and side airbags. Those will keep my people safe driving around. The textbook money is here and the deficit is erased. SACS loves me. SACS is going to take away our probation as soon as this charter cluster stuff is kicked to the curb and we defeat this independent school system stuff. We have a guy on the inside working for us. Right under their noses I tell you.
SD: About that incident. How did your employees handle it?
MT: Micheal Thurmond here again. They were great. I drove to the scene immediately. I parked my car-allowance vehicle in front, double parking at the spot reserved for the principal. That is protocol - to park in the principal's spot anytime me or any of my staff visits a school. Once I knew the kids were safe I looked for TV cameras. I found many cameras and reporters on scene. It is a blessed day in DeKalb. God is great. Our prayers are with the children. But we don't allow high school graduations indoors at churches because that is wrong. It is a blessed day in DeKalb.
And the video feed fades away