LOUISVILLE, KY Jan 5 2017- School security guards are being told to step back instead of stepping in.
Fed up with guards being scapegoats when students get dangerously out of control, Teamsters Local Union No. 783 president John Stovall is urging them to stand down.
He wants Jefferson County Public School officials to create new, clear guidelines on how school security monitors are supposed to do their jobs.
"They are the last line of defense before something bad happens," Stovall said.
Stovall represents in-school security monitors. He said it's unfair they are often the scapegoats when a student is hurt while being restrained - even if the student is a danger to himself or others.
"A lot of times it's easier to blame the security guard, or staff member or a teacher," Stovall said.
Stovall is urging his members to not use any physical force unless it's an emergency, even if the student needs to be removed from the classroom.
"I now must inform you that I strongly advise each and every one of you to restrain from any physical altercation with an out of control student unless you are instructed by your immediate supervisor to intervene or there is immediate danger to the students, faculty or to yourself," the letter states. "I thoroughly understand the severity of what I'm asking you to do but I can't sit back in good conscience and allow each of you to be the scapegoat for those students and the district's inaction on dealing with out of control students," it continues.
"You are getting one side of the story," Stovall said in an interview. "They didn't tell you about little Johnny or Betty or whatever just threw a book or a bottle, pulled out a knife, pulled out a bat. That never gets reported."
Others worry the new instructions will only make things worse.
"It gives free reign to the most dangerous students in the school," Louisville attorney Teddy Gordon said.
He believes that if school monitors' hands are tied, there would only be one other resource.
"They'd better have speed dial on LMPD. I mean how else are you going to stop them," he said.
Jefferson County Teachers Association president Brent McKim said the new recommendation was reasonable, though he also worries.
"Teachers in the classroom really are counting on our security staff to help keep the school safe," McKim said.
He hopes the district will work with Stovall on coming up with new guidelines for everyone's safety.
"The lack of discipline in these schools is horrific," he said.
"Until we get something established I told them do not use physical force unless there is not other alternative whatsoever," Stovall said.
Stovall said he has met with JCPS and they are working on coming up with new guidelines.
JCPS responded saying it's local and state policy to restrain a student if there is an immediate risk to harm himself or others. They also said security monitors perform an important job in keeping schools safe.