CeaseFirePA is appalled by last night’s revelation that the Tamaqua Area School District has reinstated its policy to arm teachers and other school personnel. At the January 15, 2019 meeting of the Tamaqua Area School Board, the Board voted to suspend the policy while two lawsuits, one filed by the Tamaqua Education Association and one by parents and grandparents of Tamaqua students, were pending. Both of those lawsuits remain pending. As the Tamaqua Education Association made clear in a public statement, their litigation is ongoing, and the parties are currently briefing legal issues raised in the amended complaint and preliminary objections. The parties to the second lawsuit have agreed on an extension of time for plaintiffs to file an amended complaint. That complaint will be filed in the coming weeks.
Shira Goodman, Executive Director of CeaseFirePA, explained: “We have been working with the families of Tamaqua since the School District’s plan became public. It is unconscionable that the School District is again hiding its efforts and ignoring the views of the people who spend the most time in these schools — parents, students and teachers. We will continue to stand with teachers, parents and students to fight this high-risk policy.”
The Tamaqua Area School District is well aware that litigation is ongoing in the Schuylkill County Court of Common Pleas. Yet the Board has again acted secretly to advance this dangerous policy. As the initial filing in the parents’ suit alleged: “The board members of the Tamaqua Area School District have exceeded their authority and endangered their community by enacting School District Policy 705, a manifestly illegal policy that authorizes guns in the classrooms and lethal force in the halls.” CeaseFirePA and the families believe that this misguided and dangerous policy is in violation of Pennsylvania law and will make students, faculty and administrators far less safe.
Once again, the Tamaqua Area School District has ignored the voices of teachers, students, and parents. Once again, the School District has hidden its actions, revealing the reinstatement of the policy only when asked directly about the policy by a community members who attended last night’s meeting.
The families are represented by Dechert, a leading global law firm that delivers practical commercial advice on complex matters and transactions with energy, creativity and efficiency.