Every school district in Pennsylvania received a memo last week from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
In the memo entitled “Act 44 Updates“, the department laid out its interpretation of Act 44 and states the School Code identifies only two types of school security personnel that can carry a firearm: school police officers and school resource officers.
The problem is many schools districts already have armed security guards.
“Last week, school districts across the entire state of Pennsylvania were protected by armed security officers. This week, those same officers reported to work without any firearms. The Department Of Education has taken away [the school districts’] ability to be able to protect students and teachers,” John Sancenito said.
Sancenito is a chairman with the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of ASIS International, the largest trade group for the security industry.
“There is a section within the School Code, within Act 44, that basically says that nothing within the act prohibits school districts from entering into contractual relationships for security personnel as they see fit … but the Department of Education has seemed to ignore that section in their interpretation,” Sancenito said. “There was nothing in Act 44 that prohibited any of those positions from being armed.”
The PDE memo has left many school district solicitors seeking advice on how to proceed with already established contracts.
“The Department of Education is putting those contractual obligations and Pennsylvania businesses at risk,” Sancenito said.
ABC27 reached out to the Pennsylvania Department of Education to see if any action can be taken against schools who continue to use armed security guards.
“Pennsylvania Department of Education will work with these districts and will leverage the support of other agencies regarding the next steps,” Education press secretary Eric Levis said.