BYRAM TOWNSHIP, NJ - “In light of the Sandy Hook shootings, I think we should be discussing some of these issues with ourselves and as a community,” said citizen Chris Reiner. “Do we think it is going to get worse or better? Yes or no? Do we think gun laws are going to get worse or better? Yes or no? If the teachers were armed, would that make a difference? I have my opinion, do you have yours? As a town council and mayor, I want to know.”
In that moment, Reiner’s topic of discussion during public participation was one that quickly became a sensitive subject amongst the township council.
“You just put that question on us and we cannot answer right now,” stated Mayor Jim Oscovitch.
Reiner explained his stand by stating, “I want at least two to three administrators armed at Byram Schools who are responsible, and to work along as a community with the board of education and police.”
“The board of ed has authority and before we discuss it, I want them to know first,” said councilman Scott Olson.
Reiner then started explaining how he would prefer an answer on the topic by the next meeting.
“As a mother, the schools have changed their policies, especially in the morning,” said councilwoman Nisha Kash, who is also a member of Board of Education for Byram School.
“I want a trained military personnel or police officer,” said councilman Carlos Luaces who appeared hit hard by the topic thrown at him. “I grew up in Newark and saw guns hidden in lockers and exchanged in the bathrooms. Anything can be used as an assault weapon. Someone in their right mind would not do this and as a parent, this is hard to talk about. No one should have to bury their own child.”
Oscovitch then said, “This is hard to discuss without involving emotions, we are all parents.”
“We cannot publicly discuss this without the board of ed and teachers,” said councilwoman Marie Raffay who is also a Board of Education member for Lenape Valley Regional High School. “I have a lot of opinions on this.”
“As a mother, we take this personally,” Kash said.
Safety and security in school districts has been a hot topic amongst town councils and Board of Education meetings since the recent shooting in Newtown, Conn.
The council had explained at previous meetings, that the first meeting after the Newtown shooting was discussed at the Byram School District's Board of Education meeting.
Byram Police Chief Ray Rafferty had spoken to parents about what goals the school plans to achieve to reassure the safety of every child.
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