KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Public Schools district said it began exploring the idea of hiring armed security guards at elementary schools in response to mass shootings across the country.
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KCPS previously said it was "a means of positioning ourselves to be bettered prepared in the event of a crisis.”
Through its Moving Forward Together initiative, the district brought that idea to parents and an advisory committee in late October.
Manuel Clark sits on the KCPS District Advisory Committee (DAC) and is a parent to a fourth grader in the district.
He said the overwhelming feedback was in opposition of armed security.
"There are a variety of opinions,” Clark said. “In the end, the concerns weighed out more toward individuals who were leaning toward not having armed security guards in our schools."
Clark further weighed in on the issues parents had with armed security.
“For a lot of parents and administrators, it’s the concept of whether it’s a place that could be targeted, whether that actually exists as an issue,” Clark said.
He said parents brought up how it would make students and staff feel and questioned overpolicing.
A KCPS spokesperson sent KSHB 41 the following statement on the reaction from parents:
Kansas City Public Schools has for decades employed armed Security officers at the secondary school level. These site-based officers are sworn officers licensed through the Kansas City Police Department, and they complete over 60 hours of peace officer standards and training each year, which is more than most law enforcement agencies. KCPS also employs patrol officers who are armed and can be dispatched to respond quickly to an emergency at any school. KCPS site-based and patrol officers are separate from our School Resource Officers, who are KCPD officers assigned to several KCPS high schools.
Beginning in the spring of 2023, in response to the rise in mass shootings happening across the country, Kansas City Public Schools began exploring the idea of hiring armed KCPS Security personnel at the elementary school level as a means of positioning ourselves to be better prepared in the event of a crisis. After a thorough examination of our options and positive conversations with KCPS families, we have decided not to move forward at this time with placing armed officers in our elementary schools.
We want to thank the many community members who came out to various meetings to hear the options and give their thoughts. Your feedback is valuable to us, and we hear you. This decision does not, in any way, sway us from continuing to evaluate and enhance our safety and security measures. The safety and well-being of our students and staff continue to be our top priority.
We look forward to continuing conversations with the community on how best to serve our children academically and otherwise.
Clark applauds the district for being receptive to feedback.
“They view our locations as being incredibly safe — safe for our families, safe for kids at this point, and having armed guards just isn’t necessary at this point,” Clark said.
Ibrahim Ramsey is a father of two KCPS elementary kids.
“I’m more of an optimistic parent; even though I say I hope no shootings go on, [that] doesn’t eliminate the fact that they could happen, and I definitely believe in being prepared,” Ramsey said. “Certain communities have different issues.”
Ramsey wonders if some elementary schools could use armed guards while others may not.
“It really comes down where you can wrap your sense of peace with it,” he said. “Make sure you have those conversations with your kids about what it means possibly to have an armed officer and not to have one.”