Following Students’ Lead, SAISD Calls for Gun Law Reform

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SAISD Board members approve a resolution that calls for changes to existing gun laws and school funding schemes at the national level.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

The SAISD board approves a resolution that calls for changes to existing gun laws and school funding.

Students throughout San Antonio have made the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, their rallying point against gun violence. On Monday, the San Antonio Independent School District board approved a resolution that calls for changes to gun laws and school funding schemes at the federal level.

SAISD trustees called a special meeting to make a statement in support of their students. Board President Patti Radle called the board's approval of the "very bold resolution" an "act of love for our students."

"It seems that this is not the time to be silent on this issue," Radle said at the meeting, adding that it is important for the district to support student protests and organization.

Fourteen students and three employees of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lost their lives when lone gunman Nikolas Cruz, 19, used an AR-15 assault rifle to open fire on classrooms on Feb. 14.

The lengthy resolution covers myriad demands for policy reform, including calling on Congress to ban the manufacture, sale, purchase, possession, and use of assault weapons except when needed by military or law enforcement; requiring stronger background checks for the possession of any type of firearm; opposing the arming of teachers; extending the perimeter of gun-free school zones; and giving school districts more money to ensure student safety through coordination of security measures, mental health resources, and education programs to communicate the danger of firearms.

Last Friday, area students, parents, and teachers met to plan a march against gun violence, to take place Saturday, March 24. March For Our Lives will start at noon at City Hall and end at the Alamo.

Students are also planning walkouts on their individual campuses on April 20, the anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, which left 13 dead and more than 20 injured.

SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez said students at various district campuses are coordinating their own demonstrations against gun violence.

"[Students] want to express themselves," he said. "This is a very emotional topic."

Martinez said he has encouraged school leaders within his district to provide an outlet for students to broach the subject. On April 20, each school will host a forum that will be "driven by the students, but closely supervised by the staff," Martinez said.

The district will open these discussions to public officials who want to show support for students. Martinez said he hopes this will keep students on school grounds, but should they exit campus, staff will accompany them to ensure their safety.

"We are trying to promote children expressing their ideas, and frankly expressing activism," Martinez said.

The resolution was created through SAISD's membership within the Council of Great City Schools, a coalition of 68 of the largest urban school districts throughout the country. Radle sits on the board of the council, and SAISD is a member district.

The resolution will be read at a press conference in Washington, D.C., on March 18, Radle said, which she plans to attend.

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