Armed school monitor debate continues after split Saratoga School Board vote


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Of the three newly elected members to the Saratoga Springs City School District, only one is in favor of arming school monitors, a heated topic of discussion for months in the district.

For nearly 30 years, retired police officers and former military members carried concealed weapons while monitoring the grounds of the Saratoga Springs school district. After discovering that this was in violation of state and federal laws, school officials decided to put the issue up for a vote. On October 9th, the school board decided to no longer allow the monitors to carry weapons- a decision of which newly elected school board member Natalya Lakhtakia says she is in favor.

“I think that anyone who carries a weapon on school grounds needs intensive and on-going training that is school specific,” said Lakhatkia. “That’s not something that the grounds monitors had.”

The district already has two school resource officers, which are different from grounds monitors. While both help to provide security for students, school resource officers provide an educational element— helping teach students right from wrong.

“We have been talking about this issue as if it is the main issue when it comes to school safety,” said Lakhtakia. “And I think that the school safety discussion has to be a lot bigger.”

Lakhtakia says schools need to also focus on dealing with issues such as anxiety, depression, and cyber bullying amongst their students.

While some agree with the school board’s decision not to arm the monitors, others feel differently. The organization Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools has been leading the effort to rearm the monitors.

“As we began to tally the votes last night and into the morning, we were overwhelmed with pride from the actions of our neighbors, friends and colleagues who spoke out clearly and loudly, casting a majority 9,417 votes in favor of securing our schools,” said the organization in a statement Wednesday.

The “majority” of votes the organization refers to is the total number of votes cast for the four candidates the organization says were “pro-security.”

Lakhtakia says there has not yet been a discussion as to whether or not the matter will be brought up for another vote before the newly composed board.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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