Educators air school safety concerns with Roe

Hank Hayes • May 28, 2019 at 8:30 PM

KINGSPORT — “Arming teachers is a bad idea.”

That was one piece of feedback given to U.S. Rep. Phil Roe by Washington County Director of Schools Bill Flanary during a Tuesday town hall meeting on school safety with Northeast Tennessee educators held at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education.

When asked for his position on arming teachers, Roe responded: “I can’t imagine Miss Childs, my first-grade teacher, carrying a nine millimeter, but there are people, friends of mine, who are extremely well trained in the military and would have no problem with them having a weapon there. I would feel better if they did.”

Roe, R-Tenn., noted that so far this year there have been eight school shootings in the nation that left four dead and 17 wounded.

“That number should be zero,” Roe told educators.

The group talked about Gov. Bill Lee’s move to hire more school resource officers across the state and increasing use of telemedicine in doing things like preventing student suicide.

“We are having a mental health crisis in the United States. We’ve got to rebuild mental health infrastructure in this country,” Roe noted. “I think you all are part of the solution. It really helped me focus last year on what we need to do. We need more in-patient facilities. … The frustrating thing for me is suicide is preventable.”

Mandy Schneitman, Jefferson County Schools director of student support services, said her school system works more closely with emergency responders doing table top and functional school safety exercises every year. “It’s been a great six years of learning for all of us. … We’re a whole lot more prepared,” she said.

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