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District official: Arming principals poor idea

PHOENIX -- One Tempe school district is balking at Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne's idea that at least one school employee should carry a gun to protect against a shooting on campus.

Kyrene schools assistant superintendent Gina Taylor said the district isn't thrilled with a principal, teacher or any other school worker carrying a gun.

"We aren't extremely comfortable with the notion of other staff being armed because of the training that's required in order to do that effectively," she said, adding that having an armed school resource officer (SRO) who has extensive gun training is a better idea.

SROs are nothing new in the Kyrene School District.

"We've had and have three school resources now, and have had them on our campuses for years," said Taylor, who is the district's crisis team leader.

Taylor said the district has started a new security policy at schools since the Connecticut school shootings.

"We, in the past, have always had visitors sign in to be on our campuses and we've given them visitor's badges," she said. "What we're now requiring is that they present a photo ID and exchange that for their visitor's badge, which requires them to come back through the office [to get their ID] as they leave the campus."

Taylor said that, while the new system won't prevent something like a mass shooting, it will help the schools keep better track of who is on school property and why they are there.

Kyrene District spokeswoman Nancy Dudenhoefer believes guns aren't the only thing that people should be talking about when it comes to school security.

"It very much concerns me that everyone is talking about guns, and no one is talking about mental illness," she said. "I do believe that we, as schools, have provided, obviously, some sort of support in that area because the children who are doing these crimes are the ones who are out of the school system. I want to know why no one is touching that story?"

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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