Madison school board silent as critics again blast new firearm plan

For the second consecutive public meeting, some residents vented their opposition of Madison Schools’ plans to arm select school staffers as part of district efforts to enhance security.

And for the second time in three days, members of the Madison Board of Education listened but declined to verbally respond.

ExploreMORE: Special Friday evening Madison school board meeting brings out emotional gun debate

The board held its regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening and nearly two dozen people attended, most opposing the board’s actions taken in the spring on allowing school staffers who volunteer — and who are then vetted and trained — have access to firearms during the school day.

“You don’t care,” about some residents’ concerns, Abby Ison told the five-member board during the public comment section of its meeting.

Ison also accused the board of “voluntarily aligning yourselves with a gun special interest group” as well as Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones — a long-time advocate for arming teachers — in adopting its new, firearm policy for the coming school year.

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“You are coming down on the wrong side of all evidence-based research,” said Ison.

Unlike Friday evening’s special Madison school board meeting, which attracted more than 100 residents, no one spoke at Monday’s meeting in favor of the new firearm policy.

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For Friday’s meeting, board members announced in a released statement prior to the event at the Madison High School gym, that the gathering was designed to listen to community opinions on its controversial policy.

Afterwards, board members also declined to comment on what they heard, which included some community members supporting the new firearms policy.

Monday’s meeting, however, had no such stipulation but the members took the same action in declining to comment after the meeting adjourned when asked for their reactions by the Journal-News.

The 1,500-student, rural Butler County school system has been among the county-wide friction points on school security, heightened by its own student shooting in 2016 that saw three wounded.

ExploreMORE: Madison schools site of 2016 student shooting: What you need to know

The board meeting included adjournment for a 45-minute executive session for purposes that included — according to the board’s agenda description — discussions of “specialized details of security arrangements where disclosure might reveal information that could be used for the purpose of committing or avoiding prosecution for a violation of law.”

The board, however, took no action after returning from executive session other than to vote unanimously to adjourn.

Madison school parent Erin Gabbard, who has enlisted the help of a Columbus-based attorney funded in part by Everytown For Gun Safety, a New York city-based gun control group, said the lack of public dialogue is frustrating.

“We’re just looking for some answers,” said Gabbard.

Fellow school parent Terrah Roberts said she and other like-minded residents will continue to raise the firearms issue at future board meetings.

“We’re just going to keep trudging along. We are going to keep showing up,” said Roberts.

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