Vermont reviewing school safety statewide, White House wants to arm ‘qualified’ teachers


School safety and security has been under the microscope across the country and in Vermont after last month’s deadly shooting in Florida and a foiled school shooting in Fair Haven.

“It’s obviously brought a lot of parents and community support in where we didn’t really have that before,” said Cpl. Scott Philbrook, school resource officer in Milton.

President Donald Trump announced his vision for school safety Saturday, it includes arming ‘highly trained expert teachers’, funding to states to train and form a federal commission on school safety to be chaired by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

“We will ensure our schools are safe and secure just like our airports, stadiums and government buildings, with better training and preparedness…These focus areas were identified after numerous meetings with students, teachers, lawmakers and local officials. And the president will continue to lead the way on keeping our children safe,” said Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, White House Press Secretary.

The idea of arming teachers is not being embraced by the National Education Association.

Vermont NEA President, Martha Allen released a written statement Monday saying in part, “What the president proposed today makes a mockery of the seriousness with which we should all take this issue.”

Philbrook said, “You know whenever you have these big incidents take place I think there are a lot of people who think ‘what are the different ways or what can we do different’… I don’t know necessarily if it’s the right way to go.”

Vermont Governor Phil Scott is not on-board with arming teachers. The republican recently had a change of heart on gun control after the arrest of a Vermont teen accused of plotting a shooting at Fair Haven Union High School. Scott ordered mandatory school safety assessments statewide.

“Just go through the school system, try to find some holes in the security or protocols that we have and try to fill those in,” explained Philbrook.

He considers these assessments to be critical in ensuring the protection of students and staff in Milton and across the state.

Philbrook said, “With any safety plan, it’s fluent and is always changing so whatever we have on the books this year it may change next year depending upon the different things that are taking place.”

The assessments are being conducted by state, county or local law enforcement and will be completed by April.

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