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Gun Control Resolution Approved By Board of Ed

Watchung Hills board endorses 'concepts' presented by President Obama in response to Connecticut shootings.

Two members of the Watchung Hills Regional Board of Education balked as the majority passed a resolution this week expressing its support for adminstrative and legislative steps to control gun violence endorsed last week by President Barack Obama.

The resolution "is expressing a concern of the horrific actions and nothing more, nothing less," according to board President Robert Horowitz. Its passage puts the board on record as supportive of the "proposed legislation and the issuance of nineteen (19) Executive Orders aimed at better regulating guns and gun safety, along with citizens’ access to certain types of firearms" and will be forwarded to lcoal, state and federal officials, as well as school boards associations.

But members Peter Falzarano, of Long Hill Township, and Gregory Przybylski, of Warren, voted against the resolution, in part for technical concerns with the resolutions but primarily because they viewed it as a political message.

"It just speaks to a tremendous problems and the fact that the care and safety of our children is paramount," Horowitz said. He said he was reminded of a quote by Mahatmi Ghandi noting "while we can't in and of ourselves individually change or guarantee safety," it's more important to try to "do the right thing."

Falzarano said the school has been at the forefront of school safety for many years, being the first to add school resource officers, and has one of the most sophisticated camera security systems.

Dr. Przybylski also took issue with some of the text of the resolution, noting the resolution is not a statement of the 10 members of the board, but—quoting from the resolution—"on behalf of the nearly 2,500 total students and faculty members."

"I don't know if they had input into this resolution, I don't know if they had opportunity to comment, but certainly I'm not prepared to put something forward on behalf of a large group of people who have not had an opportunity to look at this," he said.

Board Vice-President Harold Grossnickle said he was impressed by a statement by the superintendent of the Newtown, Conn., district when she spoke about the "need for action."    

"I think that's it's very unlikely that members of our community, members of our staff, our students and other people wouldn't wonder what the position of their board is, wouldn't wonder what their thinking is," he said. 

Dr. Przybylski said he appreciated the point but that "this is a political issue, people have 

"This is a Constitutional issue, a legislative issue...this is not a board of education issue," he said.

Falzarano and Dr. Przybylski voted against the measure, while all others voted in favor.

The complete text of the resolution is: 

WHEREAS, recent tragedies of an unimaginable scale, including the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, have acted as a national catalyst for renewed efforts to reduce violence caused by, or related to, the use and ownership of firearms; and

WHEREAS, President Obama recently announced a “gun control initiative,” involving both proposed legislation and the issuance of nineteen (19) Executive Orders aimed at better regulating guns and gun safety, along with citizens’ access to certain types of firearms; and

WHEREAS, President Obama’s Executive Orders specifically direct that Federal funds be used for programs and assessments intended to better understand the use of firearms in this country and for research and programs related to gun violence, an individual’s use of guns and whether access to firearms should be limited, among other things; and

WHEREAS, the legislation proposed by President Obama seeks to limit or ban private ownership of military-style assault weapons and armor-piercing bullets, along with the institution of mandatory background checks for all gun owners; and

WHEREAS, Boards of Education throughout New Jersey and the United States have a unique interest in ensuring the safety and security of the school districts’ children and staff; and

WHEREAS, incidents such as those which occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Virginia Tech University and Columbine High School, among many others, illustrate the very real need for school districts to be vigilant in protecting its students and staff against gun violence; and

WHEREAS, the Watchung Hills Regional Board of Education believes that the safety and security of the District’s students and staff members is of the utmostconcern; and 

WHEREAS, the Watchung Hills Regional Board of Education believes that President Obama’s gun control initiatives are an important and necessary step in reaching its goal that the District’s schools be a safe haven for students and staff and free from gun violence; 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that by passage of this Resolution, the Watchung Hills Board of Education expresses its full support of President Obama’s gun control initiatives as an important and necessary step towards limiting or eliminating gun violence in our country and in our country’s schools and public areas; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that on behalf of the nearly 2,500 total students and faculty members in the District, the Watchung Hills Regional Board of Education urges its Federal legislators, specifically, Senators Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg and House of Representatives Member Leonard Lance, to support and approve President Obama’s gun control initiative and to vote in the affirmative for the passage President Obama’s proposed legislation with regard to gun control; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Watchung Hills Regional Board of Education urges its State representatives  – Governor Chris Christie, Senator Thomas Kean, Senator Nicholas P. Scutari, Assemblyman Jon M. Bramnick, Assemblywoman Nancy F. Munoz, Assemblyman Jerry Green and Assemblywoman Linda Stender, to both express their support for the passage of Federal gun control legislation and to develop and introduce bills in the New Jersey Legislature intended to address and limit the issue of gun violence and gun ownership in the State and more specifically, as it relates to the schools of New Jersey; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED,  that the Watchung Hills Regional Board of Education urges other New Jersey school districts to adopt a similar resolution in an effort to convince the State’s Federal legislators to support President Obama’s gun control initiatives and to convince the New Jersey Legislature to introduce legislation to address the issues raised herein; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board Secretary shall forward a copy of this Resolution to our State and Federal Representatives and Congressional Delegation, the New Jersey School Boards Association, local municipal leaders and the County Office of Education.

Heather Trumpore January 25, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Dr. Dr. Przybylski was correct that this is not a Board of Ed issue but a legislative issue. Your resolution clearly states that you are urging on behalf of the students and faculty members. You do not speak for me on this issue. This is nothing but a "feel good" resolution instead of focusing on what the BOE can do and where the BOE does have ability to make a difference.
Patricia Zohn January 26, 2013 at 01:36 AM
With regard to the safety of students on campus, I agree that "it's very unlikely that members of our community, members of our staff, our students and other people wouldn't wonder what the position of their board is, wouldn't wonder what their thinking is". On that note, I wish the HS Board of Education would make substantive efforts to communicate with the community rather than spend time writing to elected officials. Having read the resolution, I am no better informed about the WHRHS BOE "thinking" on student safety than before this resolution was submitted for discussion and voting. Submitted, as usual, with little regard to soliciting public comment. I am reassured by the fact that resolutions such as this have no measurable effect on public policy. I am disappointed that our High School Board didn't choose to spend its time discussing actions more likely to have actual benefit in enhancing school safety. Given the tendency of this Board to closely watch the clock and restrict comment, this exercise strikes me as a waste of time. Thank you to the Board members who sought to focus the Board on matters more properly before a Board of Education than the content of this resolution.
Paul Rust January 26, 2013 at 01:31 PM
President Obama's use of Executive orders countermands the Constitution and this is a Second Amendment issue and supporting his use of such tactics is not appropriate. I would much rather see the school board commit to a resolution of funding a study to see how our schools can improve security beyond having cameras. Sandy Hook had cameras, as well, but a bad guy with a shotgun or several handguns can do a lot of damage very quickly and this political resolution and the proposed executive orders, while well - intended by some, are not the answer.
E. Woltman January 26, 2013 at 02:38 PM
Politics in our schools does nothing to benefit our childrens saftey only to compromise our elected officials own political intentions.....shame on all of you.
Karen January 26, 2013 at 09:04 PM
If you don't think gun control legislation has any relevance to our schools and the safety of our children, then I respectfully refer you to Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School. After the tragedy at Sandy Hook, I put my young children on their school bus and watched as they went off to elementary school. I felt like I was sending them off to war. No one should ever feel that way. While it may not be much, I applaud the Board for taking this action and expressing its support for reasonable gun control legislation. It's a start and we have to start somewhere.
JM January 26, 2013 at 11:08 PM
This resolution achieves NOTHING. How about we resolve to make changes to the school entry control mechanisms so that unauthorized folks cannot gain access. We could COPY the way the police control access to the police station. Maybe we could also resolve to train our students, teachers and first responders to work as a team should such a threat present in our schools. I'm one of those first responders, my children attend the local schools... Maybe once we are done doing things that are relatively inexpensive, practical and do not require a change to the US Constitution, perhaps we can have a comprehensive discussion on what to do next.....
Kevin Keller January 26, 2013 at 11:17 PM
This is not like starting somewhere, it's like a band-aid on a gaping mortal wound. You want to start somewhere? Start at the root of the problem, not the end results. How many were killed last year by knife? How many knives are being banned?
Karen January 27, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Sandy Hook had a school security system that was in place with locked doors and Adam Lanza still blew his way through the front entry with an automatic weapon. That same kind of school security system is at my children's school. Unless you are prepared to cover the school with bulletproof glass and steel doors and make it a fortress, there is no way to fully prevent such a violent entry into a school. In the end, our children have the right to attend school in peace. Again, I applaud the Board for taking this action because it's one more sign to me that common sense may finally be re-emerging in the gun control debate in this country. I only wish that it didn't have to come at the expense of 6 and 7 year olds who lost their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
JM January 27, 2013 at 11:02 PM
Karen, Do you consider your local police station a fortress? Adam Lanza is reported to have entered the school through a window. The type of windows we find in our local schools can be equipped with either a membrane or wire inlay which makes it very difficult to gain entry through them. The construction code which regulates schools was updated many decades ago to prevent fires.... to my knowledge, in the last 50 years, no children have died in school fires... that's a HOME RUN. What has been done to that very same code to secure our kids or at least delay entry to someone unauthorized? ...all we need is a few minutes, till the Law Enforcement folks can respond. I hope this post gives you pause to rethink your unilateral dismissal of my suggestion... the facts might surprise you.

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