State legislators look to increase security at schools

Posted at: 01/20/2014 5:44 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

School security is on everyone's mind at the State Capitol. On the eve of the 2014 legislative session, the focus is on how to prevent school shootings like the one in Roswell last week.

The legislative session starts one week after the Berrendo Middle School shooting. Is it any wonder people are thinking security?

Teachers and parents rally in the Rotunda. It's chiefly about opposition to the education reforms of the Martinez administration, but teachers unions are also pushing for more social workers and counselors in the schools.

"…and we need to have a panoply of services for kids who feel disengaged and alienated. It's a big, big agenda," Randi Weingarten, National President of the American Federation of Teachers said.

One bill that we are unlikely to see in this session would require visual identity for parents and visitors in schools. That could mean picture I.D. cards.

The bill's sponsor, Democrat Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint, says she's adding language to include metal detectors but union leaders aren't so thrilled about that.

"Our students need to feel our schools are safe," said state AFT president Stephanie Ly. "If we start having metal detectors and other things that people perceive as safe deterrents, it could be the reverse. It could affect the kids' learning environment."

One thing's for sure: People are going to be talking about this at the Capitol for the next thirty days.

"We need to have a conversation about it, a real honest conversation," said teacher Sonya Romero, who serves as vice president of the Albuquerque Teachers federation. "We need to realize that there is a breakdown in what is happening in the schools, as far as safety, as far as what teachers know, where they feel safe, what they can do - procedures."

One thing teachers unions don't like is the idea of allowing some school employees to carry concealed weapons at school. They believe that only adds to the danger and the fear.