ABINGTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) — The Abington School District will tackle a hot-button issue Tuesday night — armed guards at schools. Comments made weeks ago are still causing a stir and the district is expecting upwards of 1,000 people at the board meeting.
It was initially moved from the district office to the elementary school, and now it will be in the Abington High School auditorium.
The community is in an uproar over comments made by School Board Director Dr. Tamar Klaiman speaking out against armed officers in schools.
The incoming board member said she felt it posed a threat to black and brown boys. The remarks didn’t sit well with a number of parents who felt she was attacking the Abington Township Police Department. Klaiman has since apologized, but some area residents were still inflamed.
“Things don’t just go away because you apologize. People are waiting for real actionable items, put people behind it, but it’s really, unfortunately, the nature of the world today,” Salem Baptist Church Pastor Marshall Mitchell said.
Before Tuesday’s meeting, a number of local organizations stepped in to mediate, including the Willow Grove NAACP and Salem Baptist Church.
They are working to spark meaningful discussion. Mitchell told Eyewitness News this past Sunday that he had a productive meeting with Abington Police Chief Patrick Malloy and Klaiman.
“We’re going to take what could have been an awful incident and actually pivot on it and make it something that actually benefits the community,” Mitchell said.
School resource officers will continue carrying weapons on campus.
“These SROs, who have been in our schools for more than 25 years – one in each the junior high and senior high – are our first line of defense in the event of a school emergency, but they also assist with problem-solving, social justice and providing a positive outlet to whom students can turn when needed,” Abington Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Fecher said in a statement.
As of Tuesday, 1,600 people have signed a petition demanding Klaiman’s resignation.
Tuesday’s school board meeting is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.