Superintendent Paul Goren told members of the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education last night that he is firmly against arming teachers and staff members in the district’s schools.
In a brief statement at the beginning of a regular board meeting, Goren paid tribute to the families of those killed and injured during “the senseless violence” that occurred at the high school in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14 that left 17 people killed and another 17 injured.
He also paid tribute to “the Parkland students who have spoken out since mid-February and the outstanding work of Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie, who I knew when he worked in Chicago.”
Goren went on to promise the board and the public to provide an overview of the district’s emergency preparedness at the next board meeting, to be held March 19, a week before the annual Spring Recess March 26-30.
But he left no doubt about his views on arming and training teachers and other staff members at the district’s elementary, middle, and magnet schools.
“I will never bring forward a recommendation to arm educators and staff members in our buildings,” he said.
“We will remain on alert practicing and refining response procedures, we will work to improve school climate and build and sustain lasting relationships with both children and adults, and we will proactively work with our first responders at Evanston and Skokie Police and Fire as well as with our district and school crisis teams to ensure the necessary safety measures are in place across the district," he said.
“But we will not arm our educators."
Goren made note of the nationwide gun protest planned for 10 a.m. tomorrow “to stress the importance of safety, the importance of communication, and the importance of relationships between students, and between students and adults in our schools.”
While he was speaking to his board, the Evanston Township High School District 202 board was meeting simultaneously just three blocks away.
At that meeting, the board’s student representative, Emma Stein, who is also president of the Student Senate, said that students will be walking across Church Street from the main campus to the football stadium at 10 a.m. for a brief ceremony and that the students have been “strongly encouraged” to return to class when the protest concluded.
ETHS Superintendent Eric Witherspoon expressed his gratitude to Stein and her colleagues for keeping the administration up to date on their plans in order that the school’s security staff could make adequate preparations to ensure their safety.