LINESVILLE — Recent Pennsylvania regulations may leave Conneaut School District in need of a new security force for district sporting events.
Superintendent Jarrin Sperry, speaking at last week's school board meeting, said new legislation requires personnel providing security services for a district must complete training through the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO). Training entails a five-day, 40-hour course with costs ranging from $445 to $495 per trainee, depending on whether they are a NASRO member.
The law Sperry is referring to specifically is Act 67 of 2019, which was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf on July 2 and went into effect on Aug. 31. The law gives a grace period for security personnel hired prior to Aug. 31 to complete NASRO training. The grace period ends Feb. 28.
Conneaut School District employs Pennsylvania constables, working during off-duty hours, as security for various athletic matches. Sperry said the constables are armed when providing security at such events, and he has not yet contacted the constables over the training requirements.
"I don't know where this is going to go, but if they're not trained in NASRO, they'll not be allowed, by law, to carry firearms on school property," he said. "I'm going to have to get more information, but I really don't like the idea of having security on football games who aren't armed."
Sperry said the law does not provide an exception for current or former law enforcement officials.
"You could hire a state police officer who is just retired, and until he's NASRO trained, he will not be allowed to carry a weapon on school property," he said. "Now if they arrive on the scene, that's different. They're not working for you."
The Northwestern Tri-County Intermediate Unit is offering NASRO training, with a course taking place Fab. 3-7, Sperry said. He wasn't sure whether the constables would be willing to take off the days of work needed.
Several district officials expressed negative opinions about the law at the meeting. Sperry said he thought it was "odd" that a trained law enforcement officer would have to go through another course to be armed on school grounds. Conneaut Area Senior High School Principal David Maskery expressed a belief that financial reasons were behind the law's passage.
"Somebody is getting rich off of this," Maskery said.
While no vote was taken on the matter at the meeting, Sperry brought up a potential alternative if the constables are unable or unwilling to take the training. He said PENNCREST and Crawford Central school districts employ a private firm, Woodring Detective Agency & Security Service, for protective services. The firm, according to Sperry, is paying to have its employees take NASRO training courses.
Sean P. Ray can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.