PPS could add armed officers to schools next year

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PEORIA, Ill. — A group representing Illinois school boards has recommended Peoria Public Schools to put armed officers on every campus in the school district.

The Illinois Association of School Boards unanimously voted over the weekend at a conference in Chicago for PPS to make the change as early as 2020. The IASB is a group made up of various school board members from all across the state that recommends legislation to state lawmakers.

Five years ago, all PPS schools had armed officers on campuses. But after previous superintendent Grenita Lathan decertified them, the guns were removed. Since then, the school district has been hiring the Peoria Police Department to place officers at all three high schools. But because that costs the district more than $200,000 every year, leaders were looking for a solution.

PPS school board member Dan Walther said the IASB voted to give the OK to restore armed officers at Peoria schools. Statewide, however, the group voted against the notion to support putting guns in schools.

Officials said the vote was primarily a vote for safety, but not all parents think safety was actually taken into account.

“Who are you trying to keep safe? If it’s the kids that you are trying to keep safe, then the only way you are going to keep them safe is by building a connection with them, building relationships with them,” parent Lytesha Stuckey said. “And a gun between me and you, that’s not building a relationship with me.”

It should be noted that the vote by the IASB was only a recommendation. It still needs to go through state lawmakers before the PPS school board can even vote on it. Also, the IASB is not the state’s Board of Education.

Additionally, Walther, who represented PPS at the conference over the weekend, said that due to the current climate and acts of gun violence, this is looking like a possibility for the school district.

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