Education chief says ‘no’ to suspending classes over firearm incidents
By John McPhaul
Education Secretary Eliezer Ramos Parés on Wednesday rejected any proposal to suspend classes over recent gun-related incidents.
“I do not agree with that,” Ramos Parés said in a radio interview. “Schools are still safe places and I believe that each of the incidents has been handled by the school communities, so they have protected themselves in a certain way.”
Ramos Parés noted that security guards are stationed at the island’s public schools along with surveillance cameras and so-called artificial surveillance that can detect if a person has a firearm. In addition, active shooter training is offered.
The official said that in the case that occurred at Republic of Perú school in Santurce, a special education student’s service assistant noticed a firearm owned by the minor’s father in his possession. The father was to face criminal charges Wednesday.
Meanwhile, two high schools, also in San Juan, were subject to alleged shooting threats by students earlier this week.
Ariel Torres Meléndez, president of the Corporation for the Defense of Weapons License Owners (CODEPOLA by its Spanish acronym), said on Wednesday now is not the time to assign blame in such cases.
“The important thing now is to unite efforts, as we are doing, bringing active shooter training to school communities because certainly, what we have said, that this behavior seen in the United States is being imitated in Puerto Rico, is a reality,” Torres Meléndez said. “It seems to me that we should not wait for misfortune to occur. It is time for the effort to carry out training, and we are in the best position to continue visiting the schools, carry the message and help the Department of Education in this process, as we did recently in the Ruth Evelyn Cruz Vocational School in Cidra last Friday, which impacted at least 50 people from the school community and the Cidra police. … “It is the same effort I made in another school in Guayama and wherever they ask us to collaborate. We’re talking about public schools, but this extends to private schools, churches, places where there are people or groups gathered, because that’s how the active shooter works, and that’s what we have to work with as a society.”