Derby school district discussing possibility of bringing National Guard in as security

DERBY --  Derby public schools may be partnering with the National Guard in the future.

“We are just in the infancy stages right now,” said Dr. Matthew Conway, the superintendent of Derby public schools.

Conway said he believes that a partnership with the National Guard could benefit the students.

“There’s a lot of synergy, I think, between the two in terms of how we prepare kids for the next level of learning and life,” said Conway.

Conway said the National Guard would offer additional recruitment opportunities, and would serve as positive role models teaching the kids about goal setting and preparing for the future. They National Guard would not be armed in the schools, but Conway believes that they would still help keep the kids safe.

“Additional presence, an additional layer of security,” said Conway. "Providing another set of eyes in our schools for security.”

Governor Dannell Malloy has said that school safety decisions are up to local officials but he is adamant about not having armed members of the National Guard in schools.

“Security in schools is a local decision, and we are free to have that dialogue,” said Conway.

Some locals said this would be great for students.

“Just presence is a good deterrent,” said Ted Olenski. "Kids need role models of all kinds, so it would be excellent.”

Others said they disagree.

“You can’t dictate what happens because of fear, you have to learn from it, and then you have to figure out a course of action that doesn’t instill more fear,” said Lisa Riccio. “I just think that putting National Guards in schools is just instilling a fear that kids are going to have going to school.”

But for right now, Conway said this is merely a dialogue.

“Today, to said what it might evolve into would be premature,” said Conway. “But, I think it is a step in the right direction to bring two groups together that have similar goals for our kids.”

Meanwhile, Major Mike Peterson, the Director of Public Affairs for the Connecticut National Guard said any decisions going forward would still require a lot work.

“The Connecticut National Guard is willing to listen to Dr. Conway's ideas and take them back for further staffing,” said Peterson. “But it is important to note that no decisions have been made and no forces have been committed because we have yet to receive any sort of formal request."