Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

June 29, 2014

Debate heats up over school security

(Above, Traverse City Area Public Schools high school students share their thoughts about the possibility of arming school employees.)

TRAVERSE CITY — Public school officials and others are recoiling from a local firearms trainer's proposal to arm public school employees.

Tony Romanowski, a Grand Traverse County sheriff's deputy and National Rifle Association-certified instructor, wants Traverse City Area Public Schools teachers, administrators and other school employees to volunteer for 40 hours of concealed weapons training so they can carry firearms in schools.

"I want to train somebody who can respond to an active shooter in the school," Romanowski said. "That's all they're there for. They're not there to stop someone stealing a stereo out of a car."

No thanks, some TCAPS board members said. District officials recently committed money to increased school security measures and this month implemented a school lockdown plan to respond if anyone carries a firearm into a school without authorization.

TCAPS board Vice President Gary Appel said civilians with guns have no place in schools, even if they're possessed by district employees.

"My feeling is confronting an active shooter in a school setting requires a level of training and experience and sophistication that would be difficult for any civilian to attain," Appel said. "It's really hard to imagine a school staff member, a civilian, having that level of expertise."

Romanowski's three children do not attend TCAPS schools. They attend public school in Leelanau County; he has not approached their school district with his plan.

He hasn't formally proposed the idea to TCAPS officials, either, but he did contact one newly appointed TCAPS board member, Todd Sanders, who is a fellow Marine Corps League member.

"I'm not a fan of any guns in any school," Sanders said. "That doesn't mean that I don't support the Second Amendment or that I don't support state law, but there are plenty of steps that we can do to increase security before we go to that."

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