How Safe Is School?


Misha Fazlutdinov, Staff Writer

In the light of somewhat recent events and terrorist attacks in Paris and California, one might be concerned about whether future attacks could happen in the US. France, as most countries in the EU, has strict anti-weapon policies. The US, however, does not have such laws. In fact, the Second Amendment gives the freedom to own certain firearms without persecution by law. Some feel this freedom to possess weapons makes the US a safer place.

Others in the community, however, express different perspective.

ODA world language teacher Paul Le Bras offers his perspective based on his experience living in his native France.

“There are 200,000 people in that little corner of France who don’t have guns, and then there are 3,000,000 people in Sarasota alone, most of whom have full access to firearms. Guess which has most murder happening in it?”

No matter what your position about guns in society, safety is a concern around the world. Of particular concern is the safety of young people in schools. In January, a university in Pakistan was attacked by terrorists. The attackers planned their assault, and to maximize the casualties, they launched their attack at a student gathering. During the shooting, several students and teachers could see the terrorists, but could do nothing about it.

This attack correlates with a more local incident in New England. Twenty students and six adults were killed in Sandy Hook Elementary school on December 14, 2012. The shooter had an assault rifle and handguns, and killed and wounded many on that tragic day.

Are schools easy targets for such attacks when they cannot defend themselves?

Most schools prohibit the possession of firearms on school grounds unless for a demonstration, rifle competition, or firearms safety course. The law requires expulsion of a student if he/she is found with a gun on school grounds, in transportation, or at school sponsored events.

Some believe that having teachers carrying weapons in school, however, would make them safer. Gun possession on campus can impact every member of the community.

“With proper training and safety regulations, guns on school campus can be beneficial [to our safety]” says Ian Martin.

“I think students should not have guns, but the teachers who are eligible to should, for protection of our school against any malicious action that may be done to our school.” says ODA student Emily Liu.

The rules about weapons possession at school, however, even for teachers, clearly restrict weapons on campus. Assistant Head of the Upper School, Adam Seldis says that if a student brought a can of mace or something and kept it in her car, there would not be a problem with it. But our school is safe, so there is no reason for it. No guns though. Not even in one’s car.

“If a student is found with a knife or a gun, severe disciplinary action will be taken, but that has never happened in ODA history,” I believe. “Public schools have a zero tolerance policy with weapons, and if you are caught with it, you are kicked out.”

Schools in Florida have different rules with usage and possession of this weapon, and ODA policy is exactly like most of them – zero tolerance for weaponry.

“Anything that is made specifically to cause harm to another human being is considered a weapon: knife, pocket knife, guns, cans of mace… Of course we allow you to have kitchen knife because they are used to cut food, but we won’t allow you to bring a katana [sword] to school.” says Adam Seldis, Associate Head of Upper School.

If a … student has it in his or her car for personal safety, that is perfectly fine, even if the student wishes to drive it to school. But walking around with a can of chemical spray is not allowed, and it is not needed either, as our school is safe.

People are entitled to their own opinions about weapons and their handling, but the rules for this on the ODA campus are very clear, and severe punishments, including prosecution by law (depending on the case) are required.

“We would do whatever is needed to ensure student safety,” finishes Seldis.