SASD has 10 applicants for armed guards
COAL TOWNSHIP - Shamokin Area School District has received 10 applications for a full-time security staff being created in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in December in Connecticut.
At least three armed guards will likely be hired by April, but while they will have weapons, they won't have the power of arrest.
School board members and the district superintendent Wednesday acknowledged an error in the language describing the position of "school police officer" under district policy that was adopted Tuesday by the board of directors.
That language will be revised.
"That has to be changed," Superintendent James Zack said Wednesday. "They will not have power of arrest. That was just an error in the policy and we didn't have a chance to fix it up before it went out there."
Charles Shuey, board director, said they also won't be issuing citations, filing juvenile petitions or impounding evidence as written in the job description. They can conduct investigations within the district, but if criminal activity is discovered, a call must be placed to Coal Township Police Department. He said staff could detain students ahead of police arrival.
Shuey, who is a retired police officer, while fellow board director Ed Griffiths is police chief in Shamokin, said he'd also recommend language be changed to reflect that the armed school security staff won't have power of arrest.
Shuey reiterated a point he made before that Shamokin Area won't be creating its own police force. School districts can go that route, he said, but it's costly and burdensome. Instead, he said Shamokin Area will be looking for armed guards, and said he'll ask that the title of "school police officer" be changed.
The school board advertised for armed security last month. It's expected one guard would be hired for each of the three district buildings. Once a staff is assembled, they'll be trained on the district's recently purchased, and recently received, metal detectors, said Brian Persing, board president.
Some of the 10 applicants are either retired from a municipal police department or from Pennsylvania State Police. The personnel committee is expected to choose candidates for interviews within the next week, and a decision could come by April.
Candidates must have a minimum of five years law enforcement experience, must have active police and firearms certification and must pass a criminal background check.
The security staff will be asked to enforce board policy and assure safety on campus. They're expected to maintain high visibility, maintain crowd control, respond to bomb threats and perform internal investigations. Paperwork will be a part of the job because reports will be sought.
Shamokin Area spent $16,400 total on four metal detectors last month, and Persing said the purchase of a fifth is in the works.
Two detectors will be placed at the middle/high school for students, staff and visitors to pass through. Only staff and visitors at the main elementary and the elementary annex must use the detectors at those buildings; students will not have to pass through them, Persing said.
The fifth detector, if purchased, will be used at the middle/high school for large gym bags and music equipment, he said.
The detectors will be up and running in either April or May so as to "get all the bugs out" ahead of the start of the 2013-14 school year, Persing said.