BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — In a near majority vote, the East Baton Rouge School Board decided to add armed school resource officers this year.
Before this vote, EBR Schools did not have full-time school resource officers. For this upcoming school year, the school board approved hiring full-time armed officers to guard schools, but not everyone is on board.
“What just happened in Texas, you have the immediate presence of armed officers inside of a school and we still had the tragedy that happened so I don’t know how that is a preventive measure,” said EBRPSS Board Member for District 3 Tramelle Howard.
In a six to one vote, the East Baton Rouge School Board approved arming future school resource officers.
“This is not because of one incident in Texas,” said EBRPSS Board Member for District 6 Jill Dyason said. “This has been a serious issue that I feel that needs prioritization.”
But community members, including South Louisiana Faith Organizer Power Coalition for Equity and Justice Kaytlyn Joshua, aren’t convinced this is the right direction.
“I know we got a lot of work to do in terms of bridging the gap between the community’s acceptance of police and how they show up in communities of color, especially in schools that have predominantly seventy-eight percent Black students and so that is a concern,” Joshua said.
“I don’t think this is the solution,” Howard said. “The preventative solution that we are looking to do to solve an issue of solving a school shooting and so I won’t be supporting the motion.”
Director of School Security Robert McGarner wants more protection on the school grounds but did not support them being armed.
“We need another layer in the schools and people want to talk armed this, armed that. We don’t need extra armed officers,” McGarner said.
Board members said this step is necessary because the local law enforcement presence on school grounds is not consistent enough.
“It’s the only coverage that we can get inside of our schools, we have to have it,” said Dyason.