Mohonasen school board arms head security official

James McCrum is a former state police investigator
Mohonasen’s new superintendent, Shannon Shine, speaks during the Mohonasen Board of Education meeting on Sept. 10.
Mohonasen’s new superintendent, Shannon Shine, speaks during the Mohonasen Board of Education meeting on Sept. 10.

The Mohonasen school board on Monday authorized the district’s head security monitor, James McCrum, to carry a firearm as part of his job duties with the district.

McCrum joined the district staff in 2016 after serving more than 20 years as a state police officer, where he finished his career as a senior investigator. The board unanimously approved authorizing him to carry a firearm. The decision comes as the Saratoga Springs school community grapples with a contentious fight over whether to arm district staff there.

“For me, it’s about response time in any serious but unlikely situation,” Mohonasen Superintendent Shannon Shine said after the meeting, referring to an active shooter at a school. “We need to be able to mount an appropriate response in a timely manner.”

Shine said he had confidence in the Rotterdam Police Department’s ability to respond in an emergency but that the few of minutes it may take them to arrive on campus in the event of an active shooter could make a big difference in the safety of students.

McCrum will join the district’s school resource officer, Rotterdam police Officer Mike Rumbaugh, as the district’s armed security. Shine said McCrum will be stationed at the middle school, while Rumbaugh remains stationed at the high school.

The board did not discuss the authorization during its public meeting Monday night, but Shine said they had discussed the issue as a personnel matter in an executive session at an earlier meeting.

“It’s something that is on everyone’s forefront,” board President Lisa Gaglioti said after Monday’s meeting, referring to student safety.

The decision in Mohonasen comes as a contentious debate unfolds in Saratoga Springs over whether to arm that district’s grounds monitors who, like McCrum, are also former law enforcement officers. In Saratoga, some district grounds monitors – former law enforcement – had carried concealed firearms for decades until district officials in the spring determined that was out of step with state law and put an end to the practice.

The Saratoga Springs school board this fall has debated whether to authorize the district’s security monitors, about a dozen of them, to again carry firearms, narrowly defeating a proposal to provide the authorization at a meeting earlier this month. Since that meeting, however, hundreds of parents have called on the board to revisit its decision and let the monitors carry firearms. The frustration of parents who felt the board had reduced safety in district schools boiled over at the board’s last meeting, when dozens of parents and residents addressed board members and threatened to oust board members up for re-election in May.

In Mohonasen, Shine said McCrum will begin carrying a firearm after the district confirms its insurance costs won’t rise and officials determine what training McCrum will be required to conduct each year.

McCrum oversees a dozen other security monitors, but the board is not considering authorizing the other monitors, some of whom may have previous law enforcement experience, to carry firearms at this time, Shine said.

Shine said McCrum as well as the district’s school resource officer and assistant superintendent for business approached him about seeking authorization for McCrum to carry a firearm shortly after Shine took over as superintendent in the summer.

He said the Rotterdam Police Department has been informed that McCrum may soon be armed while on campus and that district officials will continue to be in communication with police.  

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