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Superintendent's News

Posted: March 31, 2023

Standing Together to Keep Our Kids Safe

In his weekly message, Superintendent Scott Elder thanks the DA and other community leaders for working with APS to combat guns in schools

Welcome back! I hope you had a great Spring Break filled with a good mix of rest and adventure.

Also, thank you to everyone who took the time to weigh in on the proposed school calendar for the 2023-2024 school year. We’ll be presenting the calendar to the board on Wednesday along with your comments.

It’s been a busy week back with an amazing career fair, a groundbreaking at Truman Middle School, and several board meetings, but I’m going to focus on a news conference I took part in on Wednesday with District Attorney Sam Bregman, U.S. Attorney Alexander Uballez, Mayor Tim Keller, County Manager Julie Morgas Baca and a host of other community and law enforcement leaders.

We came together with a united message: Anyone bringing a gun onto a school campus will be arrested and prosecuted, and any student found with a gun on school grounds will also be expelled for a year. The district attorney pledged to have a prosecutor on call to work with police on pursuing these cases whenever they come up, and he emphasized that there will be zero tolerance for anyone caught.

He stressed that no excuses would be accepted, be it a child who finds his parent’s gun on the coffee table and decides to take it to school to show a classmate or someone seen with a gun within 1,000 feet of a school.

Zero tolerance is something we have to do given the prevalence of guns on our campuses. So far this year we’ve dealt with 13 incidents involving guns at our schools.  

The stakes are too high.

Just this week three children and three adults were shot and killed at a Nashville Christian School. Last week two administrators were shot at a Denver high school.

My heart goes out to those communities, but that’s not enough.

I recognize that a news conference alone isn’t going to fix the problem of guns in schools. Everyone should already know that bringing a gun onto a school campus is illegal. That said, it never hurts to reinforce that message, and to that end, Bernalillo County has graciously agreed to make metal “gun-free zone” signs for all schools in the county. We will also be doing public service announcements stressing that there will be zero tolerance for anyone caught with a gun on school grounds. Mr. Bregman also announced that prosecutors and police would be going into classrooms beginning this fall to discuss the criminal justice system and guns.

The thing about Wednesday’s news conference that I was most heartened by is the fact that the DA, the U.S. Attorney, the mayor, the county manager, the police chief, the sheriff and so many others showed up to let us know that our school district is not alone as we grapple with this problem. We have partners who are hearing the pleas of our West Mesa High students and staff and those at other schools for us to do something about guns on their campuses. And these community leaders are pledging to do their part.

They made it clear that we are not alone as we try to urgently address the same risk facing every American school. They have our backs.

I am grateful to DA Bregman for organizing the event and to everyone else who showed up to stand with us.

One of the more touching moments of the news conference came as U.S. Attorney Uballez delivered his remarks because they reminded us of what this battle is all about.

“Our children deserve open playgrounds. They deserve to not have to walk through metal detectors. They deserve schools that don’t look like prisons,” he said.

“This is our city. This is our home. Let’s treat it with respect,” he added. “Let’s be vigilant. Let’s watch for warning signs. Let’s alert law enforcement. Let’s not assume that somebody else will step up to prevent this. We must stand together for this community. Stand with us. Our children’s lives depend on it.”

Indeed they do. Until next week.