Peoria School Board to vote on having armed security in high schools

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PEORIA, Ill. — Armed security officers will be in Peoria’s high schools if a policy is approved by the school board Monday night.

This vote comes a few months after district leaders ended a contract with Peoria Police to have officers provide police protection in schools. The policy states there will be one armed security personnel in each of the high schools. The school board packet agenda item says the plan has the approval of the Peoria County State’s Attorney and eliminates the need for the $200,000 contract with Peoria Police.

Peoria Schools security officers carried guns until five years ago when a court ruling found that a school district did not have the authority to employ peace officers or operate a police department. District officials say this led to the Police Training Board saying these employees could no longer carry weapons. The administration says, with help of counsel, it has developed an alternate process of arming some security personnel without new legislation.

The new policy states the primary reason for the personnel to carry a firearm is to deter and prevent threats from the outside whether by someone related to the school district, an employee, or a student bent on doing grave harm to other students or employees. It says the use of the firearm is considered deadly force and anytime it is used against a subject they should pose an imminent danger of death or serious personal injury to another person. The document also states security personnel cannot use chokeholds or the use of a club or baton to the head.

The agenda item says this policy is part of a policy manual that also needs to be reviewed and revised. The approval of this policy has to take place for the administration to implement the plan.

The board will also look at a proposal by board member Gregory Wilson to possibly re-name six schools in the district. He wants schools named after historical American figures with ties to racism and slavery changed. If the board approves changing the names, it would go to the Building Committee for deliberation.

The schools in question are Harrison Community Learning Center, Charles Lindbergh Middle School, Roosevelt Magnet School, Thomas Jeffersoon Primary School, Washington Gifted School, and Calvin Coolidge Middle School.

The meeting begins at 6:30p.m. Monday at the administration building.

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