School security needs to be a local decision, Congressman says

U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson said constituents in the 8th Congressional District don’t want a one-size-fits all federal solution to school safety.

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“(Constituents) also don’t want a state solution, and quite frankly they don’t want a countywide solution,” Davidson, R-Troy, said. “They want their school district to respond to the nature of their school district, so I think it’s going to put a bigger burden on the schools.”

Davidson recently spoke at a high school leadership summit in Washington, D.C., organized by conservative student activist Kyle Kashuv, a survivor of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14. The summit addressed school safety and gun control and had more than 1,000 students attend, Davidson said.

School districts are the experts on what the district needs, said the freshman congressman, and that’s different from district to district. For example, he said, the opinions of school boards and residents about having staff access to weapons varies.

“You’ve seen it in Butler County with the question of ‘Should we have weapons in schools?’” Davidson said. “Sheriff (Richard) Jones has been a very vocal advocate for that. But some school districts don’t feel that’s right for their district.”

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Davidson said the U.S. House passed a bill in March that would increase grant funding for school safety, but the STOP School Violence Act of 2018 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee in March and hasn't yet had a hearing. He said the bill would help empower local districts and not require a one-size-fits-all solution, which Davidson said has failed in other areas of education.

“Even pretty left-leaning teachers have seen the problems with a one-size-fits all testing regime that the state has added to — under Republican control, I might add — that’s made the testing even more onerous,” Davidson said. “So they’re looking for this local control. Schools have become a proving ground for these ideas.”

The mental health of the alleged school shooters have also played a significant role in these incidents, he said.

Checking a child’s mental health “has got to be as routine as getting a physical at the start of the school year,” Davidson said. “You just make sure they’re health, not just physically but mentally.”

Ensuring the mental health of society has been “a fairly bipartisan issue.”

However, he said. “there’s been an over-prescription of drugs and an under implementation of the Golden Rule.”

“Students themselves have gone out of their way to drop encouraging notes (to students), maybe sit next to a person who doesn’t have a friend group,” Davidson said. “When I’ve talked to some in the mental health community, these are just some really small things that could be profound in their impact. And it’s not some law that got passed in Washington, D.C. It’s because people started realizing the Golden Rule at a younger age.”

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