Ridgewood BOE Takes Stand Against Gun Violence

Board passes resolution calling for federal government to limit assault weapons, provide more funding for mental healthcare.

Reacting to the lethal shootings at Newtown, Conn., the Ridgewood Board of Education passed a resolution Monday night calling on federal legislators to combat gun violence while providing more mental health services.

The resolution is as follows:

WHEREAS, since 1979 118,000 children have died from gun violence in America  – more than double the amount of American deaths from the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and in the past 25 years, our nation has experienced almost forty K-12 school shootings that have resulted in 111 student and 26 staff member deaths; 

WHEREAS, in light of recent events and these unacceptable long-term statistics, schools are now also being asked to increase security while our budgets are capped and/or reduced by cuts in state and federal aid; WHEREAS, we need better gun control and more mental health services for students and families provided to our schools and our communities; 

WHEREAS, mental health resources are historically undervalued and have dwindled due to a lack of financial support, reduced state and federal aid; WHEREAS, there have been reductions in the numbers of teachers, social workers, guidance counselors, psychologists, administrators and reductions in programs that address the social and emotional needs of students; 

WHEREAS, state and national education officials and political leaders need to ensure that student safety and mental health services receive as much priority as student performance on tests, new teacher evaluation systems and other mandates placed on schools; 

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Ridgewood Board of Education, in the County of Bergen, State of New Jersey, urges our state and national political leaders do the following:

Provide adequate funding to schools and communities to ensure that the appropriate level of mental health, social and guidance services and resources for the purpose of prevention, support and response are available to all of our children;

Restore and increase community funding for youth and school resource officers (SROs) for stronger school-community partnerships;  deny individuals convicted of violent crimes – misdemeanors or felonies – even when these crimes were committed when they were juveniles, from ever being able to purchase or own a gun; 

Deny individuals with mental health issues from ever purchasing or owning a gun; reinstitute the ban on the sale, import, transfer and ownership of assault weapons; require every person purchasing a gun to have a background check and end the ‘gun show loophole’ that enables 40% of gun purchases to be made without background checks; impose significant punishments on irresponsible gun dealers. 

Vostra Guida January 31, 2013 at 08:12 PM
Some good ideas in there. But I have a few questions: 1) What is "adequate funding" for mental health related services? 2) How much of an increase of funding for "SROs" is Ridgewood looking for? 3) What happens when a gunman shows up at the school with the next most scary looking gun that was not banned? Who will be there to try and stop (or at least slow down) the gunman? When seconds count, the police are minutes away -- unless you assign one to each school.
News Man January 31, 2013 at 08:54 PM
Thank you for this rational summary of this serious problem. I suggest that our Editor here watch NRA supporters to overwhelm this topic and smother it. They are already doing it at Patch sites across the Country.
Matt Allen February 01, 2013 at 12:51 AM
"the ‘gun show loophole’ that enables 40% of gun purchases to be made without background checks" How can one respect a resolution that contains a falsehood? The Board of Education should be ashamed of publicly demonstrating its ignorance. Facts are not that difficult to find, all that one needs to do is read newspapers. "But it’s hard to enforce that law when as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check.” — President Obama" TWO PINNOCHIOS http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/update-obama-claim-on-background-checks-moved-from-verdict-pending-to-2-pinocchios/2013/01/25/59caeca6-672f-11e2-85f5-a8a9228e55e7_blog.html
dara brown February 01, 2013 at 02:01 AM
Maybe the BOE should resolve to stop pissing away money in town so our taxes do not continue to rise unabated. If any of the teachers, perhaps service veterans, choose to carry a concealed weapon with a permit, they should be welcomed to do so. If a deranged nutcase decides to enter my child's classroom with a gun, I want the teacher to protect the children and shoot the bad guy. Dialing 911 just gets the police there 'after the fact' and does NOTHING to protect the children. If you beleive that criminals and mental cases are going to follow the laws and apply for a guns, you are as delusional as they are. Case in point. Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the nation. Does that stop gun violence? NJ is # 2 in strict gun laws. Hows that working out in Paterson, Camden and Newark?
OZ February 01, 2013 at 07:58 PM
Taking a peace at a time of the "Bill of Rights" won't keep our kids safe but will make our country into another oppressive regime state. History has a bad habit of repeating itself. What about games where children are taught to kill civilians on a mass scale? Games that teach them that being "bad guy" is cool? BTW, how did strict gun laws in Connecticut and school "no gun" zones helped those kids? May be it's time to stop and think what is really motivating these people to kill? At the end, if someones comes to kill you then you have only the following options: plead for life, hide and hope he won't find you or fight back. If you want to protect kids in school, then guards are the only viable option.
Bergen Watcher February 01, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Regardless of whether they are personally for or against gun control, The Board should never have passed this resolution. Board members must adhere to a code of ethics that states they should not surrender their independent judgement to partisan political or special interest groups....and that's just what they have done here. Although the services for mental health portion is a no brainer....
Bob Royal February 01, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Let's look at a responsible school board: Last night, Newtown's school board decided to ask the town to approve the request to include one additional full-time Newtown police at each of the elementary schools in next year's budget. Police officers have been stationed at Newtown schools ever since the shooting and it looks like they will be staying next year.
STB February 01, 2013 at 08:50 PM
The energy of the BOE spent crafting this resolution will do absolutely nothing to make my children safer. I had higher expectations of them. I would like to see uniformed police officers patrolling our schools than a SWAT team clearing them after innocent lives have been taken in another horrific massacre. If something terrible happens, the police will show up to our schools anyway, but with rubber gloves, chalk, and yellow tape. I would rather see the police there before rather than after. They are MY children, not the school's or the teacher's or the politician's or the BOE's. I don't know why the BOE is not taking this more seriously. I think we could all agree that we have a right to see our children come home at the end of the day, every day, from school. My focus here is simply about being pro kid. My proposal is said in the spirit of something that is real that can be done right now, that would have an immediate effect (and, no, it hardly a complete solution...in fact, what I am advocating is an admittedly inadequate solution). Putting armed police in our schools is something that is already done in many schools across the country - we just don't seem to want to do it in Ridgewood, even though we have the money and our own police department. My understanding is that the majority of our property taxes go to making our schools better and, hopefully, safe. But they are not safe, and they are not being made any safer by the BOE's resolution.
Vostra Guida February 01, 2013 at 09:21 PM
Well said, VoiceOfReason. One officer at each school is not a police state, it does not scare children and it has the potential to make more of a difference than any other solution that can be implemented immediately.
dara brown February 01, 2013 at 11:08 PM
The airlines allow pilots to carry guns after 9-11. There are undercover Federal air marshalls on many flights. Potential hijackers are now aware that there is a high probability that they will meet 'resistance' if they attempt to hijack an airplane. Apparently it works. We haven't had a US aircraft hijacked since 9-11. We have an occassional nutcase passenger on board who is dealt with by the crew and passengers. Unfortunately we cannot rely upon our children to take down the potential bad guys in a classroom.
Mike Kender February 02, 2013 at 03:43 PM
For the people calling for one police offier at each school, please keep in mind that the average police officer in Ridgewood costs more than $100K per year. We have nine schools. You are talking about an additional $1 million of annual spending, or almost $150 per year in additional taxes for every family in Ridgewood. Our last Ridgewood mass shooting was at the post office. Should we also station an officer there?
Vostra Guida February 02, 2013 at 07:17 PM
Eastside Dad, We do not need to have 9 new officers. Some of our current officers can be at the schools during school hours (it's not like there is a lot of crime happening from 8-3), and while some new officers may need to be hired, other cuts can be made to cover those costs. If the costs remain a stumbling block, we can hire recently retired Ridgewood police officers to do the job for less. While cost is always a consideration, protecting our kids while they are sitting ducks at school is worth it. As for your comment about the post office, it is not the same. Children are not required to be at the post office all day. We can't protect them everywhere, but school covers a large chunk of the day and is a place that has become a target for psychos. We have crossing guards near schools because that is the place where kids are most likely to get hit by cars. We don't say that because we can't have crossing guards at every intersection in town we shouldn't post them near the schools. For all the things that this town asks us to pay for in taxes, our kids safety is not the place to cut corners.
STB February 03, 2013 at 02:00 PM
Eastside Dad, I appreciate your concerns regarding cost. While we would not need 9 new police officers, for the sake of argument lets say we need 10. You say we would need to pay them $100,000 each and, again for the sake of argument lets say it is $150,000. I think there are 25,000 residents in Ridgewood but I'm going to say that's 7,000 households paying property taxes. $1.5 million divided by 7,000 equals $214.29 per household per year. I genuinely appreciate your concerns regarding expense, But I just don't know of anything more precious than children. They're worth more than all the gold in the world. Fortunately, it won't cost all that much gold to keep them safer than they are today. I think a kid is worth more than $215. When you woke up this morning, a few dozen boys found themselves fantasizing about scoring a higher body count than Adam Lanza. Maybe one of those boys - maybe even a few - live in Ridgewood. To get a higher score, they won't be visiting a police station or a gun range. They are wholly fixated on carrying out their fantasy somewhere where the odds are highly in their favor. They have heard the 24 hour news tell them again and again and again that there is really only one logical place to go to score the highest body count. Is $215/year (if it actually even turned out to be that much) really your real reason you don't want armed police officers in our schools? Is it that an intolerable an amount of money for a dad that lives in Ridgewood?
Bob Royal February 03, 2013 at 06:36 PM
$215 per year (and that is probably way to high of an estimate) is $1.16 per school day (assuming approximately 185 school days per year). Seems like a reasonable expense given what we are trying to protect against.
STB February 03, 2013 at 07:29 PM
STB February 03, 2013 at 07:40 PM
This school had metal detectors. Apparently this kid was able to get past them. It will probably take a while to ferret out all the facts.
STB February 03, 2013 at 08:25 PM
By the way, I just noticed the link to the story. I was googling around trying to find armed police in school stories. I didn't even pay attention to the link. Seeing it made me suspicious. I just verified it with the following: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/31/price-middle-school-shoot_n_2595189.html from CBS: http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/20937727/atlanta-police-gang-unit-investigating-price-middle-school-shooting My focus is simply to try to find something we can all agree on (armed police in schools), and take our focus off of what is a divisive issue (pro or anti gun)
John Q. February 03, 2013 at 08:39 PM
Attempting to make "rational public policy" using an "irrational act" as a guide is IMPOSSIBLE.
STB February 04, 2013 at 08:12 AM
John Q, What is the "irrational act" and why is it in quotes?
STB February 04, 2013 at 01:23 PM
John Q, I have another question for you: what would you suggest would be the optimal intersection between "rational public policy" and a "rational" way to achieve it?
Vostra Guida February 04, 2013 at 01:37 PM
John Q., Sounds very profound, but what the heck does that mean in this context? Which policy do you believe is an attempt at "rational public policy" that uses and irrational act (I assume you mean the irrational killing of children at school) as the "guide" for the policy? If you are talking about the proposed policy of having a police officer in each school, I don't see how the irrational killing of children at school is "guiding" that policy. It is a response to the irrational killing of children at school, but it is not "guiding" the proposed policy, any more than having police officers in general is "guided" by the fact that there are criminals.
RidgewoodResident February 27, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Because they aren't entitled to an opinion just as you are? Maybe there are just more gun rights supporters than you think.
RidgewoodResident February 27, 2013 at 06:19 PM
Agreed. This just looks like another case of saying "think of the children" and then using their positions to advance a political cause.
RidgewoodResident February 27, 2013 at 06:21 PM
Armed security however? Or teachers who have previously trained and wish to concealed carry.


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