Leechburg PA Oct 21 2016 The Leechburg Area School Board has replaced its school police officer with two armed guards from a Kittanning security company.
The school board Wednesday night unanimously agreed to hire Armstrong Lock & Security to patrol the district's school complex for the remainder of the school year.
The board eliminated the school police officer position that was filled by retired state police Trooper Roger Kaufman, 52, since the job was created in 2013.
A motion to accept Kaufman's resignation was withdrawn by the school board before the contract with Armstrong Lock & Security was approved.
School board President Terri Smith read a statement that said, in part: “the District, having had the opportunity to carefully and thoroughly review the past and current” security methods also “had the opportunity to investigate and explore additional alternatives that are available.”
“I kind of expected that decision,” said Kaufman, reached at his Harrison home Thursday. “It's not a surprise.”
Kaufman declined to say much about the loss of his job.
“I think they were influenced a lot by other things. I really can't elaborate,” Kaufman said. “I would love to say a lot of things.”
Leechburg Area's policies have been scrutinized following several safety-related incidents in the past year, including the handling of a student accused of assaulting other students with a weapon made in a shop class last month; a student who brought a loaded handgun to school in April; and investigations into how the district reacted to allegations of a substitute teacher improperly touching a student last spring and long-term hazing by the boys basketball team.
In August, the board gave Armstrong Lock & Security a 30-day trial, during which the company's main responsibility was to scan people entering the building in the morning.
Kaufman continued in his job during the security company's probationary period.
Superintendent Tiffany Nix said the company had provided one guard for the high school while Kaufman covered David Leech Elementary School. Armstrong's second guard will replace Kaufman at the elementary school.
The district will pay $31 per hour to have the guards patrol the interconnected schools while class is in session. District officials on Thursday were not immediately able to clarify whether the price was per guard or the company's total cost to the district.
Kaufman was hired at a rate of $16 per hour, which had climbed with raises to about $18 per hour, he said.
However, Kaufman said the full cost of the school resource officer program was higher because of insurance and expenses; he suspected the cost is similar to that paid to the firm.
Smith said it was possible Kaufman could work for Armstrong Lock & Security if the firm chose to hire him.
“I'm not really counting on that,” Kaufman said. “I have not been contacted by that organization.”