Gun control not on the agenda for school safety panel
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Sunday, January 20, 2013
1/20/13 at 9:27 AM
Correction: A Sunday Tulsa World story misspelled the last name of Tulsa Public Schools chief of police Gary Rudick. This story has been corrected.
Read previous stories about the gun
control debate and find links for
information about laws regulating gun
Related Story: School staff enrolls in free Tulsa gun safety classes
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb - chairman of the state panel charged with investigating school security after the Sandy Hook massacre - said he goes into the process with no preconceived conclusions, except that the result won't be a gun control proposal.
"To be proactive we have to have every issue on the table and have a comprehensive approach," Lamb said.
Except for gun control.
"Gun control is not going to be part of the discussion of the commission," Lamb said. "That's a federal issue."
The commission holds its first meeting Tuesday at the state Capitol. Kenneth Trump, a nationally recognized consultant on school security issues, is scheduled to talk to the group by Skype.
State Mental Health Commissioner Terri White and Office of Homeland Security Director Kim Carter also are on the agenda.
Job one for the commission will be a comprehensive analysis of school safety, followed by an informed discussion of a broad range of ideas for making that situation better, Lamb said.
The panel draws its membership from diverse fields, including police, school and community leaders, and that assures it will have the expertise to come up with good ideas quickly, Lamb said.
The panel will likely meet four or five times before issuing its findings in March - in time for legislative action this year.
One idea that Lamb expects to be discussed is a National Rifle Association proposal to put armed guards in schools.
While the commission may find the idea has merit, Lamb cautioned that the group has to keep an eye on how any plans it proposes will be funded.
"We don't want anything to come out of the commission with a huge price tag," Lamb said. "We don't want to put a lot of new mandates on the schools."
Commission member Gary Rudick, Tulsa Public Schools chief of police, said he shares that concern.
"At Tulsa Public Schools, if it comes down to a question of funding, and it's the teacher in the classroom or the cop at the door, the teacher in the classroom wins every time, and that's as it should be because the priority for education is to educate," Rudick said.
The commission needs to explore the possibilities of alternative funding or partnerships to pay for increasing school security, he said.
"If you're going to make it a mandate that school districts put cops in schools and then not fund it or allow them the opportunity of special funding, I don't want to be part of it," Rudick said.
A key to putting more police officers in schools is making sure those officers receive the training necessary to make them effective there. Making students feel safe goes well beyond standing guard against the outside chance of an armed intruder, and that will require a different kind of training than police currently are getting, he said.
"Before we start saying, 'Let's put a police officer in every school,' let's make sure the police officers are trained in the education environment," Rudick said.
Rudick said he is wary of another proposal - arming teachers. Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa, and Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, have announced legislative plans to allow teachers to voluntarily carry guns into schools. The proposal comes with state funding to pay for training teachers.
"I have not met very many education professionals who think that's a good idea," Rudick said.
Leaders of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police discussed the idea recently, and no one thought it was a good plan, he said.
The plan raises thorny safety, liability, labor and legal issues, he said.
"It's not being well thought out," Rudick said. "It's too easy a solution to say, 'Let's arm the teachers.' "
Two other commission members - Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes and Oklahoma Christian School Headmaster Roger Webb - also said they have concerns about arming teachers.
Clabes said he has spoken to school administrators and the teachers' representatives in his area and hasn't found much support for the idea.
"I'm not getting any positive feedback on arming teachers in our schools," Clabes said.
Webb - formerly the head of the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety and president of Northeastern State University and the University of Central Oklahoma - said he is willing to discuss the issue, but he has his doubts.
"I'm a strong Second Amendment person and have a record of that that goes back a long time," Webb said, but introducing guns into a school setting should be done only with careful thought and training.
"Because a teacher may have a concealed (carry) permit, I don't know that that teacher ought to be out on a playground or down on the floor with children with a gun."
Lamb, a former Secret Service agent with expertise in site security and response to worst-case scenarios, did not speak against the armed-teacher idea, but he said training would be important.
The commission will endorse the idea only if it concludes it would raise the safety levels in schools, Lamb said.
Other ideas likely to be discussed include school design, training and, possibly, mental health issues.
But Clabes said it may turn out to be easier to come up with good ideas than to figure out how to pay for them.
"That seems to me to be the biggest hurdle for us to overcome: How do we fund these initiatives that I think are very important," he said.
Members of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security
Gary Armbruster, principal architect, MA+ Architecture, Oklahoma City
Phil Armstrong, assistant pastor, Metropolitan Baptist Church, Tulsa
Retired Maj. Gen. Lee Baxter, member, state Board of Education
Maj. James Blocker, director, emergency medical services, Oklahoma City Fire Department
Sharon Brady, assistant director of special education, Lawton Public Schools
Ryan Brown, associate professor of psychology, University of Oklahoma
Kevin Burr, superintendent, Sapulpa schools
Trice Butler, principal, Wilburton Middle School
Kim Carter, director, Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security
Chief Brandon Clabes, Midwest City police
Capt. Tim Dorsey, Edmond police
Eleanor Goetzinger, behavior specialist, Oklahoma City Public Schools
Randy Holley, superintendent, Shattuck schools
Mike McClaren, superintendent, Claremore schools
Jerry McConnell, director of facility operations, Moore Norman Technology Center
David Prater, Oklahoma County district attorney
Gary Quinn, superintendent, Bartlesville schools
Chief Gary Rudick, Tulsa Public Schools Campus Police
Darry Stacy, Cleveland County commissioner
Lyn Watson, member, Oklahoma City School Board
Roger Webb, headmaster, Oklahoma Christian School; former president, University of Central Oklahoma; and former commissioner, state Public Safety Department
Tammy Will, coach and middle school teacher, Morrison Public Schools
Original Print Headline: Gun laws not on agenda for panel
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
Todd Lamb: The lieutenant governor is leading a panel to consider options to improve school safety in the state.