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Parma schools staff will be permitted to carry guns this school year

Parma City School District headquarters.
Ryan Loew
Ideastream Public Media
Parma City School District headquarters.

The Parma City School District's Board of Education voted unanimously last week to allow trained staff to carry guns on school property, roughly a year after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill into law allowing school districts to adopt policies to do so.

Superintendent Charles Smialek, in a message to parents this week, said the district is allowing staff to carry guns because of continued school shootings and other acts of violence at schools across the country.

"We find it prudent to provide specific, carefully selected staff members with the ability to arm themselves as one more deterrent to mass violence," he said. "Importantly, we are not publicly identifying these staff members as the element of the unknown is, in itself, an aggravating factor to those who may be selecting sites in which to enact a tragedy."

He said the Board of Education will have the final say on who is allowed to carry a firearm, upon review of their training and background. He added that the school district will work closely with the Parma Police Department to "ensure our staff members who carry receive similar training to our local police officers."

The boards of education of the region's two biggest school districts, Cleveland and Akron, have taken votes since last year to prohibit staff from carrying firearms. Streetsboro City Schools' Board of Education, meanwhile, voted last year to allow staff to carry guns.

"It is very sad that we even have to have such conversations and take such actions," Smialek said. "However, we must continue to take advantage of as many tools as we possibly can to keep our students safe."

Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.