Knox County School Board Faces Showdown on Arming Teachers Resolution(s) Tonight

Tonight, is showdown for the Knox County School Board on arming teachers (with guns). Former School Board Chair and Ninth District (South Knox County) member Republican Kristi Kristy was first, then Fourth District Democrat Kat Bike came in with one more politically harsher language.

Monday, Second District Jennifer Owen handed out a Resolution that she says that she is trying the merge the two into one.

I am told that there are likely only 8 members of the 9 member board likely to attend tonight’s meeting. I am guessing that there is a good chance no Resolution is passed tonight.

Interesting that Bike and Owen are supportive of the armed SRO’s. Last year during the budget approval process, they voted against the salary enhancements for the SRO’s.

from the Knox County School Board Minutes.

On Ms. Horn’s substitute motion to approve the Fiscal Year 2024 General Purpose Budget at the major category level of $668,300,000.00 with School security officers included in the group of classified employees receiving a 12% salary increase, as seconded by Ms. Kristy.

Roll call:
Dr. Butler – No
Ms. Owen – No
Mr. Watson – Yes
Ms. Bike – No
Ms. Horn – Yes
Ms. Henderson – Yes
Mr. Triplett – Yes
Mr. McMillan – Yes
Ms. Kristy – Yes

Resolution 3 verbiage is…

 The Knox County Board of Education desires to maintain a safe learning environment for students, faculty, and staff; and

WHEREAS Our Knox County Schools are supported by competent, highly trained, certified, School Security Officers and School Resource Officers; and

WHEREAS Knox County Schools has direct, cooperative partnerships with the Knoxville Police Department and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office; and

WHEREAS The Knox County Board of Education has invested millions of dollars in school safety and security, including at least one School Security Officer assigned to each school; and

WHEREAS Public Chapter 801 authorizes public superintendents to enter into agreements to allow faculty/staff to carry concealed handguns on school grounds when certain requirements are met; and

WHEREAS the introduction of additional firearms into educational environments poses significant risks to the overall safety and security of students, faculty, and staff; and

WHEREAS Public Chapter No. 801 forbids notifying parents, students, or school employees when a faculty or staff member is authorized to carry a concealed firearm; and

WHEREAS this lack of transparency may create an atmosphere of fear and/or distract from the positive learning environments the Knox County Board of Education seeks to maintain; and

WHEREAS the Knox County Board of Education is committed to policies that employ evidence-based strategies for enhancing school safety, such as investments in mental health resources, conflict resolution programs, school-based interventions, and comprehensive measures that focus on prevention, intervention, and support services;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Knox County Board of Education hereby affirms that certified law enforcement personnel are well-equipped to manage the security of Knox County Schools; and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that to maintain the highest possible standards for student safety, School Security Officers, School Resource Officers, and other law enforcement officers shallcontinue to be the only armed personnel allowed on Knox County Schools campuses.

Mrs. Owen Resolution

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