Public Comments for: HB8 - School security officers; scope of employment, certain veterans permitted to carry.
Last Name: Watkins Locality: Reston

To Whom It May Concern, Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB 1034. As a public high school school teacher and parent of two young children (ages 5 and 2) in Virginia, I have serious concerns that this bill will wind up doing more harm than good for the children of our state. I have worked in two different public school systems in Virginia over 13 years, and I have seen first hand how beneficial counseling services can be to a wide variety of students. If parents are allowed to prohibit their students from accessing counseling services in the school, these students may be cut off from not only critical mental health support, but but also the academic, career, and community support that school counselors and mental health team members provide. All members of a school mental health team must undergo rigorous education before obtaining their licenses, and as such they should be trusted as the professionals they are to provide only services that they deem necessary for students well-being. I strongly urge you to let the trained mental health professionals do their jobs. Don't make students get tied in the mire of adult squibbles. Thank you, Sara Watkins Mother Teacher Concerned Virginia Citizen

Last Name: Watkins Locality: Reston

To Whom It May Concern, Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB HB1032. As a public high school school teacher and parent of two young children (ages 5 and 2) in Virginia, I have serious concerns that this bill will wind up doing more harm than good for the children of our state. As VA Senator Peterson said on January 27 of this year, regarding a similar bill, "I don't think we should be involved in micromanaging school libraries...The problem is that you’re going to sweep up books that you don’t intend to sweep up" (Matthew Barakat, abcnews.go.com). I strongly urge you to leave the books in the libraries for the kids. They deserve to have the opportunity to decide with their own parents and personal support systems what books to read. Thank you, Sara Watkins Mother Teacher Concerned Virginia Citizen

Last Name: Rashad-Green Organization: Community Organizer Locality: Richmond

Greetings Legislators, I am calling on you to oppose HB 8. I am against having armed security officers on school campuses. and allowing veterans to become SROs. This bill, if passed, will expand the prevalence of a police state in our schools. Students need counselors, social workers, school psychologists, and other mental health supports— not officers trained with weapons. School campuses are weapon free zones, so why allow anyone (even adults) with weapons on campus? This will increase negative reactions to our schools with our students, families, and their communities— especially those that are already disproportionately targeted by law enforcement outside of school. This bill will ramp up the number of students residing in juvenile detention centers. I oppose this bill.

Last Name: Corcelius Organization: FEA-VEA-NEA Locality: Fairfax County

Greetings Legislators, I am calling on you to oppose HB 8. I am against having armed security officers on school campuses. and allowing veterans to become SROs. This bill, if passed, will expand the prevalence of a police state in our schools. Students need counselors, social workers, school psychologists, and other mental health supports— not officers trained with weapons. School campuses are weapon free zones, so why allow anyone (even adults) with weapons on campus? This will increase negative reactions to our schools with our students, families, and their communities— especially those that are already disproportionately targeted by law enforcement outside of school. This bill will ramp up the number of students residing in juvenile detention centers. If this bill passes: the rate of Black, Latin American, and 2SLGBTQIA+ students will be disproportionately targeted as they already make up the majority of students in juvenile detention centers. 54.58% of the children and teens in Virginia juvenile detention centers are Black. 12.75% are Latin American. Out of the 400 children and teens incarcerated, 20% are 2SLGBTQIA+. In addition to this being an issue of student safety, security/policing, surveillance, institutionalized racism and gender-based violence,—this will have a negative financial impact, too. In Virginia it can cost $215K/year to imprison a child, but only $12K/year for public education. Keep our kids in school, not in prison! Oppose HB 8. Thank you for taking the time to read this comment. For more information regarding the statistics in the comment, visit: https://www.nokidsinprison.org/ "

Last Name: Ehrlich Organization: Fairfax Education Association Locality: Fairfax County

Please vote no on HB8. I oppose having armed security officers on school campuses, and allowing veterans to become school security officers only increases the police state mentality in our schools. Students need counselors and supporters, not officers trained with weapons. School campuses are weapon free zones, so why allow anyone with weapons on campus? Some students fear guns and this would add to the feeling of fear rather than the feeling of safety. This is not a good idea.

Last Name: Bates Organization: American Federation of Teachers Virginia Locality: Richmond

Dear House Education Committee, My name is Tyvon Bates, and on behalf of American Federation of Teachers Virginia, I am writing to urge you to oppose HB 8 chief patroned by Delegate ANderson. I hope you will join me in opposing HB 8. Thank you,

Last Name: Karabinos Organization: VPEP (Virginia Public Education Partners) Locality: Chesterfield

Comments Document

HB8- This bill seems to be attempting to address security shortfalls within our schools, however, the intent of this bill is lost in it's wording. If this is an attempt to introduce "armed mentors" into the schools, selected from the veteran community, I must oppose this unless there be a stipulation that such mentors be from the local community where the school resides. Without the benefit of shared experience, 'deputized' security officers may end up escalating rather than resolving student issues. I also oppose the idea of putting armed guards inside schools. The ACTUAL risk to students of a school shooting is comparatively small compared to other risks experienced by students such as mental health concerns. HB9 - Virginia is having a difficult time recruiting and retaining teaching staff. While we spent the first months of the Pandemic praising our teachers, the tone, once the Pandemic became politicized, has become hostile. Virginia should be doing all it can to attract new teachers to the profession. HB9 is a direct attack on new teachers and would be a disincentive to rising students from entering the teaching profession. The current standards are sufficient without this bill. I would like to recommend a closer look at administrative staff qualifications however. In Chesterfield County, for example, we had an educator promoted to a logistics and operations leadership role for which he had no known qualification. The continued challenges with managing our Busses are a result. Perhaps the House can look into making administrative postings more relevant to the skills required.

Last Name: Choate Locality: Henrico

Please oppose HB8. Allowing local school boards to assign any duties to school security personnel beyond those enumerated as part of the job's mission will allow security officers to become preoccupied from focusing attention on the task of maintaining security. While there will hopefully be times when a security officer's time is not consumed, they should be free to the greatest extent possible to focus on matters of security within the building, not only responding to current situations but maintaining a proactive stance in improving the environment. This is an amendment of my previous submission. The with has been changed to from in the 2nd sentence. My apologies!

Last Name: Choate Locality: Henrico

Please oppose HB8. Allowing local school boards to assign any duties to school security personnel beyond those enumerated as part of the job's mission will allow security officers to become preoccupied with focusing attention on the task of maintaining security. While there will hopefully be times when a security officer's time is not consumed, they should be free to the greatest extent possible to focus on matters of security within the building, not only responding to current situations but maintaining a proactive stance in improving the environment.

Last Name: Fox Organization: Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America Locality: Albemarle County

I'm with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and I oppose this bill.

Last Name: Andrews Locality: Barboursville

I ask that you categorically oppose HB113 as it Violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution. It establishes a government preference for some religions over others or none. Our public schools exist to educate ALL students and that means students of all religions and no religion. Please oppose or amend HB344. While extending the agency of instituting charter schools to the state at large MAY be a desirable outcome (I remain unconvinced on this but openminded), the ability of local citizens to appeal the decision of the Board should not be removed. Citizens deserve the opportunity to revisit the determination of the Board and to additional information to strengthen their case for or against. Please oppose HB37. Local school boards should retain the decision power re the necessity of SROs. In general I am against the eroding of local control of schools. And in this specific case locations do exist where the presence of LEO’s in the educational setting will be more disrupting than helpful. I ask that you categorically oppose HB4. Schools should absolutely retain the right to determine when misdemeanors committed while in school should be reported to law enforcement. Crimes rising above the misdemeanor level should be required reporting. Please oppose HB8 Schools need fewer guns not more in them.

Last Name: Flinn Locality: Chesterfield

I oppose HB8. It appears to be another effort to introduced "armed mentors" into our public schools. This is a terrible idea. Many children are frightened of guns and don't feel safe when they are around. Virginia's schools don't need to be made into a police state.

Last Name: Yearout Organization: NEA/VEA Locality: Radford

When designing new bills that increase the standards for teachers, please remember that we are experiencing a National Teacher shortage and a National Staff shortage in our public schools. There was a shortage before the pandemic, and now the shortage is even worse. Sorry, but not many people want to work in public schools anymore. It is very unfortunate. So, as the old saying goes, begs cannot choose....it would make more sense to put the time and energy into trying to recruit more people to work in our public schools at all levels. Increasing the standards for teachers especially is really an oxymoron at at time when no one really wants to teach anymore.

Last Name: Slinde Locality: VIRGINIA BEACH

Members of the House of Delegates Education Subcommittee, I am writing to oppose HB. As a veteran teacher who is witnessing the mass exodus of seasoned teachers from public education due to the increasing work load and the low compensation which fails to keep up with the cost of living. Also, there is an urgency to my opposition as I view these changes as compounding the fact that there are not enough students in teacher preparation programs to begin to fill the gap. HB 9 will give all local school boards the option to increase the probationary term of service for public school educators from three to five years. This legislation also eliminates the option of a three-member fact finding panel, and reduces written notices of a hearing from 10 to five days. Neither of these changes will attract young people or career switchers to enter teacher prep programs. They will do the opposite as they will make it delay job security and builds up a sense of distrust and disrespect. Our teacher preparation programs are already experiencing alarming drops in registration and completion. Now is not the time to make entering this field less attractive. What young person would want to enter the field knowing they could be trapped in a tenuous position for 5 years and should they experience difficulty subjected to review by one person and given notice only 5 days in advance. This treatment will not attract or retain individuals to this profession. Virginia will very shortly experience shortages even worse than we have now. VOTE NO to HB 9. Kathleen Slinde

Last Name: Wilcox Locality: Hardy

Please vote no to house bill 9 tomorrow.

Last Name: Horwath Locality: Danville

As a teacher in Virginia, I am sharing my thoughts on all three bills. To begin on a positive note, HB8 makes sense to me. School security officers are important, and I'm thrilled to see an opportunity for retired veterans to potentially serve in this very important role. My only concern with this bill is the section "any other duty assigned him by the local school board". I generally prefer local school divisions be granted as much flexibly as possible, but I wonder if this clause could be used by some school boards to force school security officers to take on other responsibilities not related to their core job. Just some food for thought. I have grace concerns about HB9. I've mentioned that I generally support flexibility for local school divisions, but this bill lacks any short of specific parameters for how this option to increase the probationary period for up to two years would be implemented. This is something that could be abused in many ways. What also makes no sense about this bill is that while that aforementioned flexibility to the probationary period is established, this bill then takes discretion away from school divisions by removing the option of a fact-finding panel for dismissals. I also don't understand the rationale for cutting the time period after written notice of such a hearing in half, besides leaving teachers at a disadvantage. This bill is logically inconsistent, with the only consistent factor across all aspects is that it comes across as anti-teacher. I'm not against high expectations for us teachers but considering the nation-wide crisis in morale (one recent Forbes article cited a study suggesting that up to 50% of teachers nation-wide are considering leaving the profession) I fear that this bill will make it even more difficult for school divisions across the commonwealth to retain and recruit educators. I urge each of you to vote down this misguided legislation. To end on a more positive note, I support most of HB12. It makes sense to limit public access points to schools (ideally to just one if possible). My only concern with this bill is that I'm not sure how feasible it would be for a school security officer to search every visitor using a handheld metal detector. I teach at a small school with one security officer who is stationed near the main entrance most of the day, but he does patrol the hallways during class transitions. This is less than 10 minutes, so we could ask visitors to wait, but then he also is posted in the cafeteria during all three lunches. Perhaps funding for additional school security officers could be attached. I'm not sure if it's required by state law or if funding is already provided, but I would also like to see all schools with a buzz in type system, so that no one can get into a school without being buzzed in. This also would be costly though, and state funding would likely be required for several school divisions. Thank you for taking the time to listen to my thoughts on these three bills.

Last Name: Thorne Organization: Richmond public schools Locality: Colonial Heights

To ask teachers to increase the probationary period is unconscionable. Teachers are already stressed out. Probationary periods remove protections. Also to remove the 3 member hearing or 10 to 5 day notices? Teachers deserve due process.

Last Name: Karabinos Locality: Chesterfield

HB113 - Violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution as it establishes a government preference for monotheistic religions, implying an exclusion of atheism and polytheism. HB37 Excessive contact between LEO and Students can cause common discipline issues to be escalated in to criminal issues that could potentially ruin a child's life (School to prison pipeline) HB59 like HB4 criminalizes the same school discipline issues that we may have committed as kids ourselves. This will further feed the school to prison pipeline and given the statistics regarding incarceration and prosecution in the Commonwealth, I suspect that this would impact minority communities more than white communities HB8 Looks like another attempt to introduce "Armed Mentors" into Virginia schools. Schools need fewer guns not more in them.

End of Comments