In the wake of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., the Watertown School Committee passed a resolution asking for strengthening gun control laws and improving mental health services for students. Also, some students at the high school will have their own response to the shootings.
The School Committee began its meeting Monday with a moment of silence for the 17 people killed during the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on Feb. 14, 2018. Later in the evening, the School Committee unanimously passed the resolution at Monday night’s meeting.
The resolution calls for State and Federal lawmakers to support laws and regulations that:
- Insure thorough background checks and waiting periods before adults can purchase or own guns
- Prohibit the presence of guns on school property, unless by a law enforcement officer
- Ban the sale of semi-automatic, assault-style weapons as well as high-capacity
magazines or clips
- Strengthen counseling and mental health services for students
School Committee member Lindsay Mosca said she thinks that the resolution was the right step for the board to take, and said that she does not see it as a political issue but one of concern for students’ safety.
“The statement is so important to us because we are asked to fund things like professional development on things like school security and to strengthen our borders and other things,” Mosca said. “All of that feels so frivolous when there is actually measures that other governments in this world have taken that have proven to save lives of children in schools. The idea that we as can publicly say as a body that we fundamentally care about safety of students in schools to the point that that we want we want real solutions, not fake ones, I think is important.”
School Committee Chairman John Portz said the resolution will be shared with Watertown’s elected representatives on the state and federal levels.
Students at Watertown High School will have the chance to protest gun violence along with students around the nation on National School Walk Out Movement, which takes place March 14.
Superintendent Dede Galdston stressed that while the schools are supporting the students right to express their feelings and opinions on the issue, school officials are not running the event.
“As a school system we have a delicate balance between promoting and supporting,” Galdston said. “We, ourselves, the schools are not a political body but we certainly want to honor and encourage our students’ First Amendment rights. But we want to do that in a very a responsible, safe way.”
Students can choose whether or not they want to join the National Walk Out Movement at WHS.
“We also recognize this is a choice for students. It is not something that we would ever require students to do and I am sure many students will not participate,” Galdston said. “But students who wish to, we want to make sure they are safe. That’s what our intention is, to provide them with that safe opportunity, while they themselves are the ones that have to organize the effort.”