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KO Votes ‘Yes’ to Arm Security Guard

The Keystone Oaks School Board approved school security guard Beth Padden to seek certification to carry a firearm.

The Keystone Oaks School District security guard will be allowed to carry a firearm in school, and the school board also will discuss options for making the buildings safer.

The Keystone Oaks School Board voted 7-1 Thursday evening to approve school security guard Beth Padden to carry a firearm. Board member Dave Hommrich voted against the measure. Board member Robert Brownlee did not attend the meeting.

“For her to be security and not be armed would be putting her at a disadvantage if something would happen, God forbid,” school board President Marian Randazzo told Dormont-Brookline Patch. “It also gives us more flexibility if Aaron Vanatta would be out of the building. That way we wouldn’t be without security.”

School police officer Aaron Vanatta, like Padden, is based out of the middle school-high school complex. He is armed, and serves all five district schools, including Dormont Elementary, Fred L. Aiken Elementary, Myrtle Elementary.

Padden, who has been a security guard in the district for 25 years, will have to apply through the state to carry a firearm, and will have to go through an intensive, five-month training and testing process. If she passes training, Padden will be allowed to carry a gun at the start of the 2013-14 school year.

The certification process will be paid for by the school district at a cost of $1,900, which includes the cost of training and of the firearm.

In addition, the school board will continue to discuss other ways to make the schools safer.

Hommrich said that since next school year would be the earliest Padden would be allowed to carry a firearm, the board should consider what can be done to make schools safer for the remainder of the current school year.

“We’re not going to fix the problem even if we vote on this,” Hommrich said. “What do we do now? What do we do today?”

Hommrich suggested that the school board sit down with representatives from each of the three district boroughs and discuss a higher police presence in and around the schools.

Randazzo said Vanatta already is working with local police departments, which have increased their presence around the five schools.

Board members Gary Alward and Lisa Cancelliere noted that other districts, such as Chartiers Valley School District, do have local police officers patrolling school grounds, but that the district pays the officers. Cancelliere said she wanted to look into the cost of paying additional outside officers to work in the schools, compared to the cost of training Padden, a current employee.

The board likely will continue to discuss school safety at the February meeting.

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Ann Martin January 19, 2013 at 03:08 PM
T&BT, You say this is not sad, but reality. How is it that you cannot see that this reality of equipping institutions of learning with firearms is not sad? That reality is sad. MSgt Delallo, Ret., Your suggetion that school staff be allowed to carry concealed is interesting. What level of threat will allow that staff member to fire on any person? Have any of you ever read, "The Butter Battle Book."? Mr. Ligman, I appreciate your concern, however, having two armed officers at the high school will not offer additional protection to the children in the area elementary schools. Two people cannot be in 4 locations simultaneously. Children learn more from actions than words. The actions that the "trusted" adults are proposing is to show that you can't be safe unless you are in possession of a fire arm. When a high school student has been bullied for years with no relief, do you think that student might remember this lesson?
T&B T January 19, 2013 at 04:20 PM
Ann - On your question "T&BT, You say this is not sad, but reality. How is it that you cannot see that this reality of equipping institutions of learning with firearms is not sad?" You're actually correct Ann; I wrote too quickly; it is sad. However what I was trying to say was: We are in a nation that by any objective assessment is clearly degenerating badly every day and there is little hope for this country's future. The people in Washington have no answers; they just compound the problems. This is the reality at this time; sad; yes! ..but reality nonetheless.
JS January 19, 2013 at 05:36 PM
Ann - very good point about the bullied kid. Many kids ARE being taught that firearms are the only way to protect yourself or to protect your rights. The paranoia of some in the gun loving community can't help but be passed down to troubled kids. Then we make it easier for them to get a gun, then we have more gun deaths.
Ann Martin January 19, 2013 at 10:31 PM
This is a great start at a deeper discussion on the gun issue, especially in our schools. T&BT...Why wait for the government to come up with a good idea? The government is "of the people, by the people..." So letsk, as a people, show the government our ingenuity! What just might work??? I think it would take a good group of people, neither for nor against, but open to solutions. I was raised by a Marine who taught me to shoot at a young age...and learn respect for a firearm and NEVER conisider it as a solution to a problem. Some of my children are licensed to carry; some are not. What is it that makes a responsible person that way? Is there a way to approach it in that fashion, and avoid the knee-jerk, person with the most guns wins mentality? Maybe some really good ideas can start in this tiny forum!
MSgt. John DeLallo January 20, 2013 at 07:51 AM
Ann Martin--you've asked likely the most important question of all. "When to use lethal force?" I'm paraphrasing your question, and the answer is grounded in Pennsylvania statute. For most of us who carry for self defense, there is a 4 step process. Escape--a good run beats a bad stand. Conceal--hide. If you look like prey, you will be eaten. Cover--and I mean hard cover, like a building, or the engine block of your Chevy. The last step is Engage, and you better be lily white if you do engage. For first responders, the rules are different. They run toward the sound of gunfire, and if they see a lethal threat, they eliminate it. No matter how much one sugar coats it, the armed defender, hired to protect our children, has one critical job, and that is to return safely to his or her home at the end of each day. An active shooter inside a school begs only one response, and its swift and lethal. You've observed that children learn that you are safer conducting your daily grind with a gun in your pocket or on your hip. Its up to parents, from a very early age, to teach our children that even if bullied, absent a lethal threat, their response must be measured. About a hundred years ago, when I went to school, problems were resolved with a punch in the nose, and the two combatants often became swift friends. Bullies don't need to be shot, only stood up to. Children learn what we teach them. We teach that with each right comes a responsibility, especially with firearms.

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