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Union files suit over policy arming teachers in Tamaqua schools

Written by The Associated Press | Nov 14, 2018 5:32 PM
Tamaqua-Area-School-District-meeting3.jpg

Tamaqua School board member Nicholas Boyle, left, and School Board President Larry Wittig, center, joined by Joe Egan, a representative of The Buckeye Firearm Foundation. (Matt Smith for Keystone Crossroads)

This story has been updated.

(Pottsville) -- A midstate teachers union filed suit on Wednesday seeking to overturn a new policy that allows teachers and other employees to carry firearms in school.

The Tamaqua Area School District was the first in the state to enact a policy arming teachers, saying it was intended to "preserve a safe school environment for students and staff." The policy, approved in September, says teachers and other employees can carry district-issued guns after firearms training. It also establishes guidelines for the use of force.

The lawsuit, filed in Schuylkill County Court, contends the policy violates the Pennsylvania School Code. The union said that any guns in school should be carried by school police officers, not teachers and staff.

"As teachers, counselors, and other education professionals, we are trained to provide a high-quality education to our students, not to carry or use firearms in a dangerous situation," Frank Wenzel, president of the Tamaqua Education Association, said in a statement. "This is a bad policy for a lot of reasons, but we are challenging it in court because we believe it is illegal."

A number of parents protested the idea of arming teachers at a board meeting this month.

Board President Larry Wittig told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday that the board has no plans to eliminate the policy, but might consider changes.

An earlier story appears below. 

(Pottsville) -- A Pennsylvania teachers union has filed suit seeking to overturn a new policy that allows teachers and other employees to carry firearms in school.

The Tamaqua Area School District was the first in the state to enact a policy arming teachers. The policy, approved in September, says teachers and other employees can carry district-issued guns after firearms training. It also establishes guidelines for the use of force.

The Tamaqua teachers union says in the suit filed Wednesday in Schuylkill County Court that any guns should be carried by school police officers and the policy violates the Pennsylvania School Code. A number of parents protested the idea at a board meeting.

President Larry Wittig told The Philadelphia Inquirer the board has no plans to eliminate the policy but might consider changes.

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