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Tamaqua Area School Board Suspends Armed Teachers Policy Pending Lawsuits

TAMAQUA, Pa. — A school district in Schuylkill County will not be implementing a controversial policy to arm its teachers and staff. The Tamaqua Area Scho...

TAMAQUA, Pa. -- A school district in Schuylkill County will not be implementing a controversial policy to arm its teachers and staff.

The Tamaqua Area School Board's plan is officially on hold.

With a vote of 7-1, the school board decided against implementing a controversial policy Tuesday evening.

Months ago, the board voted to allow teachers and staff to carry firearms as a safety measure to the mass shootings at schools across the country.

“The board has had the foresight to create a policy to allow administrations, teachers, and staff to volunteer as our students' guardians,” said board member Nicholas Boyle, who was the lone member to vote against suspending the implementation.

The district is facing two lawsuits, one filed by the teachers union and one filed by a group of parents. The board voted to suspend implementing the policy until the cases are heard by the courts.

“We're just glad that they chose to make the right decision tonight, to suspend the policy until litigation is taken care of, and we're just hopeful we can have our day in court and we can prove our case,” said Frank Wenzel, the president of the Tamaqua Area Education Association.

Parents at the meeting were extremely upset with the board's decision, saying suspending the implementation of the policy isn't enough, they want the policy revoked.

“I am very disturbed by it. This is not what we need in this community,” said parent Lisa Behr. “What we need is policy that's based on what's best for our students.”

Parents asked the district why it hasn't looked at other options.

“If the board was considering or was already in the process of implementing any of the other legal safety measures that the other schools in the area may have done, such as police officers, whether they be retired or active, paid or volunteer or trained [school resource officers],” said parent Tracy Perry.

The district said at Tuesday's meeting it has considered hiring police officers or others with professional training, but it does not know how it would be able to afford that protection.