Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hillsborough School Superintendent Jeff Eakins’ statement on arming teachers

We first asked Hillsborough School Superintendent Jeff Eakins about the idea to let teachers carry firearms in school on Feb. 20, right before a School Board meeting and just shortly after it was taken up in the Legislature.

While most board members dismissed the idea immediately, Eakins said he was not ready to comment.

So we asked again after Gov. Rick Scott's Wednesday news conference in Tampa.

His full statement, according to spokesman Grayson Kamm:

"Superintendent Eakins echoes Gov. Scott's statement today that law enforcement should be the focus of security personnel, and teachers should be able to focus on teaching. The superintendent does not believe arming teachers is an appropriate step to take. The governor's priorities – fully funding campus security, along with mental health funding in and out of school – are excellent investments for our schools and communities.

"If the Legislature does create a 'marshal' program, the superintendent and School Board would gather a wide range of stakeholders, including parents, students, staff, and local experts to analyze the proposal and the unintended consequences that may come about before making any decision about whether to implement a program."

Scott, when asked by reporters what he thought about arming teachers, said he believes "law enforcement ought to do their jobs and teachers ought to teach."

In reality, Eakins' position is no different. But, unlike those who have brushed the idea aside with strong and sometimes sarcastic language, Eakins was acknowledging that the marshal program could become law. And, if it does, any decision on whether to participate will require careful thought and community input.

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