Gun violence is top priority for back-to-school, Philly leaders say

The School District already employs Safe Path monitors to watch out for violence around campuses. These individuals are trained to provide mentorship and conduct conflict mediation between students. The University of Pennsylvania funds the expansion of that program.

“Philadelphia schools, despite all the things you’ve seen across the city, are the safest places for our kids to be,” said School District of Philadelphia Chief Safety Officer Kevin Bethel. “It’s our job as adults to make it as safe as possible for them. I believe that work is already done.”

The plan does not involve having armed police officers inside schools, which students have opposed in recent years. Instead, “school safety officers” are hired by the district to keep peace inside school buildings.

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Senator Mike Reagan (R-31) introduced legislation to require schools to hire armed security personnel during school hours.

“We do not believe that’s necessary,” Bethel said. “We’ve done an effective job keeping our kids safe without having to introduce guns.”

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