State education commissioner against arming teachers

Mar 12, 2018

This Wednesday some students’ nation-wide and right here in Western New York are planning to protest against gun violence. They want to send a message to Congress to support changes in gun laws in wake of the Parkland, Florida school shootings.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley talked with the New State Education Commissioner and Buffalo Schools superintendent about school safety. 

"But it is not just a certain lock on a door, or a certain camera somewhere. It is an attitude and review of the actions that are taken in that school every day," said MaryEllen Elia, State Education Commissioner

New State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said she does not believe teachers should be armed.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Commissioner Elia said the environment in each individual school makes up safety for students and teachers.

"And the supports that are given to students in that school – that is the environment of the school and that really is what we are talking about,” remarked Elia.

“Are schools safe in New York for students from an active shooter?” Buckley asked. 

“Absolutely they are, but we all know that a circumstance some place might occur, so we have to be proactive instead of reactive,’ Elia answered.  

But Elia, who is a former teacher, she does not believe teachers should be armed.  

“You spent a lot of time in the classroom – should teachers be armed?” Buckley questioned.

“Absolutely not,” replied Elia. “Because teachers are in classrooms to teach and any distraction away for that – I don’t think is appropriate. Taking a gun into a classroom or into a school, I believe, is inappropriate,” Elia responded.

Buffalo Schools Superintended Kriner Cash agrees with Commissioner Elia.

Buffalo Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash appearing with New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia last Friday at Burgard High School.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“I would not to see more weapons and ammunition in schools – absolutely not,” said Cash.

Cash said e district and police continue working to keep schools safe for students.    

“You can’t keep schools 100-percent. Schools are already safe. They’re the safest place for our young people to be every day, every minute,” Cash stated.

Both the Buffalo School District and Education Commissioner said they support students in their demonstration this Wednesday. But the city district will issue a policy for schools. Students won't be allowed to leave school buildings for their own safety, but will be allow to protest to lend their voices to this national issue.   

"We encourage it, but we just have to work out the logistics. We can't just say go do it. We have to give guidance to the whole school system, to every high school principal and my staff has to be helpful and supportive and it has to be very orderly and safe," Cash explained.