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The Southern Poverty Law Center: Cobb County School Board Decision to Arm School Employees Endangers Lives

COBB COUNTY, Ga. – Over community objections, the Cobb County School Board last night approved a policy that allows the district superintendent to authorize certain school employees to carry guns on school property, including school buses, and at school events.  

The following statement is from Mike Tafelski, senior supervising attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center:  

“We remain deeply concerned about the actions of certain Cobb County School Board members and Superintendent Chris Ragsdale that continue to prove that they are incapable of acting in the best interest of students. This was the case when they refused to enforce CDC recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and their continued enforcement of discriminatory policies and practices. The recent decision to arm school employees is no different.  

“Instead of addressing the root causes of the nation’s gun violence epidemic, the board’s majority conservative voting bloc passed a policy that would expose students and teachers to more gun violence. The policy is backed by Superintendent Ragsdale and allows him to authorize school employees to carry guns in schools, on school buses and at school events. This, coupled with several other recent decisions that harm students, demonstrates that Superintendent Ragsdale is unable to make sound decisions to protect Cobb County students.  

“These school board members routinely enact school policies that are ineffective for the stated goals. To be clear, more guns, more police, and more punishment do not make schools safer. The new policy is not rooted in data, community input, or evidence-based solutions. And, not surprisingly, it will endanger lives and disproportionately impact students of color and students with disabilities who are already subjected to discriminatory discipline and over-policing in the district. 

“The community has been vocal about their opposition to the policy, even offering the board safer alternatives that are proven to help curb gun violence such as mental health support and the Be Smart Framework which encourages gun safety in homes. But Superintendent Ragsdale and the board’s white majority once again chose to ignore them and as well as calls by the board’s Black members to delay the vote.  

“The biggest threat facing Cobb County students is Chris Ragsdale and the board majority who continue to refuse to listen to community concerns and embrace evidence-based practices. But it is not too late for them to change course. We urge board members and Superintendent Ragsdale to abandon this policy immediately. And instead work with the community and experts to come up with better solutions.” 

Additional resources:  

Giffords Law Center  

Learning for Justice