School District to Spend $2.4 MILLION on Guards? A Mom Protests

Hi Folks — How I appreciate this Wake County, NC, mom trying to fight the outrageously expensive security theater her school district is considering. As this WRAL  article explains:

 The Wake County Board of Education is expected to vote Tuesday on a proposal to put one unarmed security guard at each elementary school in the district.

If approved, the measure would cost $835,000 for three months or nearly $2.4 million for a year for a contract with AlliedBarton Security Services. The company already provides security for some of the schools in the district.

Wake County Public School System is the 16th largest public school district in the country. Here’s what the mom wrote. – L.

Dear School Board representative,

While I was as horrified as the rest of the nation by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary school, I believe that spending $2.4 million of our already limited school budget on unarmed guards at elementary schools is a waste of resources. What would an unarmed guard have done at Sandy Hook? He likely would have been the first one shot. The tragedy at Sandy Hook was awful and horrific, but it was also an isolated incident. Spending $2.4 million  in reaction to a single incident doesn’t make sense. Spending $2.4 million on unarmed guards who would provide zero protection in the event of a situation like Sandy Hook makes even less sense. Our elementary schools need assistant teachers, copy paper, smaller class sizes, glue sticks, technology in the classrooms, and library books. Spend the $2.4 million on something that aids to the education of students. Please do not approve this proposal which was made as a hasty reaction to the Sandy Hook tragedy. The education of our students needs to come first, not a facade of safety with guards who would never be able to stop a crazy armed gunman anyway.
Thank you,
Parent of two Wake County elementary students and one rising kindergartener
Halt, knee-jerk school board ninnies!

Halt, ye knee-jerk school board ninnies!

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39 Responses to School District to Spend $2.4 MILLION on Guards? A Mom Protests

  1. Warren January 20, 2013 at 12:12 am #

    This is going to be an uphill battle, for this mom. She will hear about all the innocent victims, and the standard…..
    1. How would you feel if it happened here, and we didn’t do everything we could to prevent it?
    2. How can you place a dollar amount on the safety of our children?
    3. If it saves even on life, it is worth it.

    And so on.
    I wish her luck, and hopefully common sense will win out.

  2. Bill Gould January 20, 2013 at 12:38 am #

    It’s pretty sad that once Americans get riled up enough to spend more money on their schools it is on something that won’t do anything to improve their children’s education.

  3. hineata January 20, 2013 at 1:31 am #

    Well, this could be seen as providing employment opportunities for really big and freaky-looking blokes who mightn’t otherwise get anything in this economy…..

    On the other hand, you could just call it insane :-).

  4. hineata January 20, 2013 at 1:33 am #

    If they are going to do something this silly, pleease tell me they’re going to dress up in something like the cool costume in Lenore’s photo – at least they could serve as some kind of history lesson at the same time…..

  5. mollie January 20, 2013 at 2:23 am #

    Gadzooks, Lenore, how I adore your photos and captions!! Thank you for the much-needed levity.

    Ah, yet again, the luxury to even CONSIDER utilizing resources for something as futile as this faux safety measure… it’s what people who have too many resources, too few immediate challenges do: they try to improve the unimprovable (in this case, an already plenty-safe environment for children).

    I have to say I was a bit surprised that it was unarmed guards they were calling for. Of course I’d like it even less if it called for armed guards, as I see this as a sure recipe for disaster, since any person, no matter how carefully vetted, can end up doing harm with a gun that they, and those who hired him, ever foresaw.

    Still: armed, unarmed… please, let’s just get this one thing straight: children already survive at rates that 80 years ago were impossible. How extreme can we get in terms of trying to make sure NO CHILD, EVER, DIES.

    We think this is what success means: that no one dies accidentally, no one ever comes to harm. Well, we’re so damned “successful,” we’re overrunning the planet at a rate that’s impossible to sustain. I’m grateful for antibiotics, they’ve saved my son from death three times now, and I’m not overstating it. But I absolutely, unconditionally accept that there are other ways he could die or be injured, and I happen to think that life on Earth is a privilege, not an entitlement. To keep ourselves alive, we are decimating many things, among which are the joys of a free-ranging childhood.

    I’m sorry, but for me, it’s just not worth it. Let me live, and let me die, and let me be free from the tyranny of those who would try to save me at all costs.

  6. missjanenc January 20, 2013 at 3:43 am #

    Has anyone considered how guards – armed or unarmed – will affect the general mental state of these kids? I’m sure enough of them have been freaked out about the school shootings, so now they will be greeted by big burly men in uniform each day because there’s a microscopic chance that they, too, could be the next victims.

    I live in NC and all the school districts have been subjected to severe budget cuts. I’d like to know what sacrifices will be made to free up funds for this asinine proposal.

  7. Dave January 20, 2013 at 7:49 am #

    Let us hope she wins this battle. Fear is out of control in this country. I learned from a friend on Long Island that her children’s school was having lock down drills even though she was sure that the chances of this happening in her community were non-existent. She also said there were safety issues around cars at the school that were not being addressed. We plan for what will not happen and avoid dealing with a real problem. The reasoning, what else can you do in light of Sandy Hook. We are a nation our of control because of our fear of what if.

  8. Kenny Felder January 20, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    If the parents who are protesting this happen to read this comment: I’m a parent and teacher in the area and I would be happy to sign a petition or whatever else I can do to help. Send me an email at KenFe@HotMail.com.

  9. Warren January 20, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Is it just me, or do these administrators not see the obvious.

    In the event someone is going to go on a killing spree at one of these schools………….I am thinking the board is now paying for the very first victim.

    Guard “Can I help you Sir/Ma’am?”

    Shooter “Just here to pick up my kid.”

    Guard ” Can I see some ID please?”

    Shooter “Oh no problem”, pretends to reach for wallet, grabs handgun from waist band, and dead guard.

    Armed or unarmed, won’t make a difference.

    All this is going to do, is give the board the ability to say “Look what we did, to protect your kids.”. Side effect will be making the kids and everyone else uncomfortable.

  10. Trey January 20, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    And schools come resemble prisons even more. What’s next? Watch towers with armed guards and free fire zones? Razor wire covered fences? Calling the kids by number rather than name?

    All this stuff seems to be in the name of safety, yet because they are there, I’ll bet the armed guards will be used more against children who misbehave far, far more than any intruder.

    And thinking about it, I suspect persistent questions at the board meetings about policies determining how the guards will be used and under what circumstances would do more to derail it than anything else.

  11. Sara January 20, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Let’s not even talk about how security guards are almost never used on things outside the school. Instead they’re used to help with discipline and to intimidate students

  12. Mark Swan January 20, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    Great, our school board is getting national attention again…. This is a useless idea that will do more harm than good. The prison, or at least airport, feeling at schools is already leading to less parent involvement. More good people on campus is more helpful than one security guard.

  13. Emily January 20, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    That much for unarmed security guards, of all things. What the devil is that going to do in the off-chance something bad happens?

  14. Library Diva January 20, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    This makes me so angry. Why is there always money for this shit, yet school boards routinely cut extracurriculars, ask for givebacks from the various employee unions, etc.? Think of all the stuff they could have done with this money. Added a foreign language option. Offered ice hockey. Built a new playground. Taken all the seniors to France for a week! Set aside part of it for smores ingredients and invited the entire community to a massive money bonfire behind the school! I hope the board uses a little common sense, and goes to see a good orthopedic surgeon about those troublesome jerky knees.

  15. Trey January 20, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    Last but not least Lenore, follow up on this story. Whether they go through, or not, and for what reasons.

  16. dancing on thin ice January 20, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Guards are not the answer. This idea is in response to a symptom instead of addressing source factors. Include talks on mental health and access to weapons, whether they are guns or explosives as in the Bath School 85 years ago.
    The chances are so low for any particular place to be a target. At what point though not just for schools, should some type of regulation come into consideration?
    A slippery slope as part of a bigger picture not being discussed is after putting guards, acting as a doorman or armed SWAT team sharpshooters, in school is where do we stop? This could get extended to malls, movies and to accompany firefighters to a fire.

  17. AW13 January 20, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    I went to and have taught at schools with a security guard. And, even at the high school, they were never used to discipline the kids. They reported rule infractions to the administration, but the actual consequences were determined and enacted solely by the administration. I wouldn’t think that guards being used for the discipline of children is really something to worry about.

    This is ridiculous and I wish this mom the best of luck. I have to think there are other parents in this district who feel this way but feel to intimidated to speak up. Hopefully they’ll gain courage from her example and the common-sensers will band together to effect change.

    @mollie: ” Let me live, and let me die, and let me be free from the tyranny of those who would try to save me at all costs.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

  18. Donna January 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    Unarmed guards? What the heck are they supposed to do if a gunman comes in? I am completely opposed to armed guards too but at least they make some rational sense. This is just pure idiocy.

  19. Jen Connelly January 20, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    @Warren

    I just read a young adult novel with that basic premise. A returning Iraq veteran with PSTD goes to get his kid from school after his wife divorces him and gets full custody and a restraining order. He’s drunk, barges in the classroom of 1st graders and eventually takes them, their teacher and 2 high school students helping in the class hostage.

    At some point the unarmed security guard (who was like 22) comes to investigate and he’s shot within seconds. He did absolutely nothing for security of the school. In the end the the guy’s kid gets shot by the cops (but lives), the guard, the guy and the guy’s best friend (also a vet with PSTD who commits suicide over the whole thing) are dead.

    The book was silly in it’s portrayal of the high school kids who were way too calm and stupid but the basic premise, especially after Sandy Hook, was believable. And the first person to die was the security guard.

  20. Jen Connelly January 20, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    There’s a school district near me that just hired ARMED guards to patrol it’s 3 school at a cost of $39,000 for half the year.
    http://www.columbian.com/news/2013/jan/17/school-safety-ridgefield-hires-armed-guards/
    Obviously not as bad as $2.4m but for a small school district that has to be a lot. This is suburbia, outside of Vancouver, WA, which isn’t all that big to begin with. It’s like being a far suburb of Portland, OR.

    And just about all the responses on the article are positive because think of the children.

    There are 7 schools in our district (3 elem, 2 mid, a high school and an alternative high school which is really tiny). Apparently the high school already has cop. Just one. I guess he patrols all the schools but stays mostly at the high school. But now the district is considering closing campuses and locking the front doors so that you have to buzz in. One of the things I loved coming here was that I didn’t have to ring a doorbell to get in the school like back in Chicago (and it was like that when I was a kid back in the 80s). They’re talk of more measures, too.

    Personally, I think our schools are safe enough. Although I mentioned to my 5th grader that if any nutcase came to their school and wanted to do some damage they didn’t even need to get into the school because the preschool and 5th graders are housed in portables in the parking lot. I doubt a mobile home stands much chance against an assault rifle. He was coming up with these elaborate ways to escape after that (wasn’t freaked out or scared or anything because the chances of it happening are so slim).

    The middle school is even an easier pick. The classrooms all open to the outside and the kids are wandering around in between classes every 40 minutes. AND the school backs up to the woods so anyone could just come on over and start shooting. Again, the idea of this happenings is pretty absurd to me.

    And that’s after we actually did have a shooter in the area of the elementary school last year. Big shoot out with the cops just blocks from the school which caused them to go into lockdown (just the 2 elem. and the high schools who were within 1/2 mile of the incident, the other school went about the day as normal). It was such a bizarre isolated case (and the guy was one of those 2nd Amendment nutcases with an arsenal of assault weapons at his disposal).

  21. Captain America January 20, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    My wife and I just saw the movie Lincoln (note: overly long, not that good), and we were greatly started at the excessive violence in the pre-movie advance trailers that were shown.

    Too much violence. Too much Hollywood dominance of the story themes in our lives.

  22. missjanenc January 20, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    I think everyone who reads this article should call/write the school district and scream about this stupidity, no matter where you live. All you have to do is say you’re an outraged parent and don’t provide any more information.

  23. Leslie January 20, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    This is the school district that we are in. And, our school actually already has one of the unarmed guards provided by this same company. And, although he is a very nice man, I imagine in an emergency situation of any sort he would be fairly useless. Basically, he spends most of his time sitting around various places in the school (the office, the cafeteria, the media center). If a parent comes in to get a student out of school early for some reason (dr. appointment or whatever) and that child is on the playground for recess then they send the security guard out to notify the child/teacher. I believe he helps with carpool too. Frankly, that kind of help is not worth the $2.4 million in my book. Especially when we don’t even have enough buses to get kids to and from schools in this district in a timely manner.

  24. mollie January 20, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    Captain America said: “Too much violence. Too much Hollywood dominance of the story themes in our lives.”

    No coincidence, really, that there is an obsessive focus on “bad guys” getting their comeuppance in US-produced films, and an inordinate amount of terror about safety in the populace.

    Wired from practically birth, the idea is that we are always at risk of attack. Remember that stuff about building a “safe room” in your house with duct tape and plastic sheeting because US “intelligence” (heavy irony in the inflection here) said there could be a biological or chemical weapons attack anywhere, at anytime.

    Wow.

    Yeah. Seems like that’s the predominant strategy, to be ever alert to potential attack, and to funnel resources into defense, whether at the national or school district level.

  25. Emily January 20, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    First of all, let me begin by saying that my time in the public school system was far from idyllic, especially from grades four through eight–K-3 was fine, and high school was good, but those “middle” years were often pure hell. However, one thing I can say in defense of the public school system when I was a student there (1989-2003), is that it was still somewhat run on common sense. We used real scissors, and later, Exacto knives, sharp “groove” tools for making tile prints, and power tools for shop class. We played with real balls during gym class and recess. We slid down hills/packed snow banks on crazy carpets, and just with our bodies. We made a game of running on the pavement and sliding on the ice. We went to swimming lessons, and free skating, and we also had “electives” where one of the options was downhill skiing, and no, nobody was required to wear a helmet. Also, back then, school buildings weren’t run like prisons–visitors had to sign in at the office, sure, but nobody tried to stop anyone from going in to see their own kids, or from whatever other reason they were there. Sure, in high school, we had one or two police officers around, but they didn’t really do anything–I think they were there for the benefit of the “bad” kids, than for the safety of the general population, but it didn’t make much of a difference, because the people who wanted to break rules, skip classes to smoke/do drugs, mouth off at the teachers, fight, etc., just did it anyway.

  26. Becky January 20, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    If I’m not mistaken wasn’t there an armed security guard at Columbine? Sure did a lot of good there…

  27. Jenna K. January 20, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    I agree with this mom and hope that she can get other parents on her side to battle the school board. It’s not going to be an easy fight…so many people in this nation have been brainwashed recently into thinking that guards at schools would solve the problem. The real problem is the unlimited violence many kids are exposed to and that is acceptable by society in general (think of all the people lined up to watch violent rated R movies the moment they hit theaters). Honestly, I don’t think the new gun control laws will change anything either. If you think back to most mass shootings we’ve had, most of the shooters got their guns from someone else (like a parent) who had it legally. It all boils down to how violent in general we’ve become as a society–how many things are acceptable that simply weren’t acceptable in former generations.

  28. Jenna K. January 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    And there is no common sense anymore on this issue. I’ve heard of two 6-year-olds getting suspended for making a gun shape with their fingers and one more (5-year-old) for mentioning a bubble gun that she had a home. Zero common sense.

  29. Trey January 20, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    AW13 – Maybe where you were. Where I’m from, well, we aren’t quite as civilized.

    2 links below. For those that don’t want to click through, the long and short of it in Jackson, MS kids were shackled as punishment by school security. In Meridian, MS kids were routinely routed into the judicial system for minor disciplinary infractions.

    Jackson, MS http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/25/miss-district-agrees-to-s_0_n_1547122.html

    Meridian, MS
    https://www.google.com/search?q=meridian+school+to+jail&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=Zyn&tbo=d&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial&sclient=psy-ab&q=meridian+mississippi+school+to+prison&oq=meridian+school+to+&gs_l=serp.1.1.0j0i8l2.109767.110211.0.113784.4.4.0.0.0.1.125.396.2j2.4.0.les%3B..0.0…1c.1.PKv8GqhqqrQ&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.41248874,d.b2I&fp=86adb78287de6c61&biw=1440&bih=771

  30. Warren January 20, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    @Jenna,

    Do you really think we have become more violent as a society? I don’t believe so.

    What it is, is society now expects us to curb our violent tendancies more and more. Back in the day, if two people wanted to settle their dispute by going out back and kicking the crap outta each other, that was fine. Now it is considered barbaric and unacceptable.

    Duels to the death were accepted as a way to settle things.

    Humans have been violent, are violent, and always will be violent. There is no changing that.

    Movies, games or whatever have nothing to do with it. The majority of the public knows and recognizes fiction for just that fiction. Those swayed or encouraged by movies, games, music or whatever to commit a horrible act, were already predisposed to doing it. If the movie didn’t trigger it, getting cut off on the roads would have.

    Humans are the only members of the animal kingdom that expects it’s members to curb their nature. And sometimes I think, that society is to blame for some of these horrible events. We are told that if we fight back at the time, we are just as bad as the bully/attacker. Do that enough times, and the frustration, anger, and stress will build up until it explodes.

  31. Ann January 20, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    My sister actually used to teach in this school district, just a year ago. Let me just say that $2.4 million dollars is something they DO NOT have. And if they DID have it, they really should be using that money to discourage kids from joining gangs and girls from getting pregnant in elementary schools. These are things that actually DO plague this school system on a daily basis. A couple million dollars could actually buy quite a bit of realistic prevention, if applied appropriately…and if they actually had that money.

  32. Taed January 20, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

    As Becky already pointed, out, at Columbine there was an armed on-site police who fired at the attackers and was fired upon about 5 minutes into the 50-minute attack, to no effect.

  33. Owen Allen January 21, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    Just as 9/11 and the Afghanistan war could have been averted by the strategic use of aid to build schools and health facilities following the Afghanistan-Russian War, so children and youth deaths by shooters or suicide would be significantly reduced by increased education and personal development support facility. How long before our western society GETS IT. The results of the experiment is in. We know the answer. Why keep doing the stupid old destructive thing?

  34. Warren January 21, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    Owen,

    Do you really believe that had the US spent millions if not billions to build schools and hospitals in Afghanistan after they and Russia called it quits, that 9/11 would never have happened……………

  35. Fern January 25, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    My brother used to be a security guard. His company had specific procedures in case of violence. He was supposed to run, lock himself in an office, hide under the desk, and call 911. He was mainly used to catch uniform violations. If your school is going to hire a security guard, ask what their procedures are in case there is violence on campus. If everyone knows that the procedure is for the guard to hide (should that be the case), then maybe it will seem more obviously ridiculous. I realize different companies could have different procedures. I am just writing about my brother’s experience with one company.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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