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District official: Arming principals poor idea

PHOENIX — One Tempe school district is balking at Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s idea that at least one school employee should carry a gun to protect against a shooting on campus.

Kyrene schools assistant superintendent Gina Taylor said the district isn’t thrilled with a principal, teacher or any other school worker carrying a gun.

“We aren’t extremely comfortable with the notion of other staff being armed because of the training that’s required in order to do that effectively,” she said, adding that having an armed school resource officer (SRO) who has extensive gun training is a better idea.

SROs are nothing new in the Kyrene School District.

“We’ve had and have three school resources now, and have had them on our campuses for years,” said Taylor, who is the district’s crisis team leader.

Taylor said the district has started a new security policy at schools since the Connecticut school shootings.

“We, in the past, have always had visitors sign in to be on our campuses and we’ve given them visitor’s badges,” she said. “What we’re now requiring is that they present a photo ID and exchange that for their visitor’s badge, which requires them to come back through the office [to get their ID] as they leave the campus.”

Taylor said that, while the new system won’t prevent something like a mass shooting, it will help the schools keep better track of who is on school property and why they are there.

Kyrene District spokeswoman Nancy Dudenhoefer believes guns aren’t the only thing that people should be talking about when it comes to school security.

“It very much concerns me that everyone is talking about guns, and no one is talking about mental illness,” she said. “I do believe that we, as schools, have provided, obviously, some sort of support in that area because the children who are doing these crimes are the ones who are out of the school system. I want to know why no one is touching that story?”