School Chief Suggests
Teachers Be Armed -
Is Forced To Resign
CINCINNATI (Reuters) - A suburban Ohio school superintendent who suggested that teachers be armed resigned under pressure late on Thursday.
John Varis, superintendent of Reading Community Schools for the past 13 years, had provoked a firestorm of criticism when he said at a public meeting Oct. 15 that arming teachers might improve school security.
Many parents in the working-class community were alarmed by the suggestion and circulated petitions calling for his removal. No action was taken by the Reading school board until after the Nov. 3 election, when two new members were elected.
Seeking to ease concerns, Varis said the suggestion had been one of many ideas tossed about at a brainstorming session and would never have been applied without community approval.
He said he envisioned keeping guns for possible use by teachers in a tightly secured central location.
School board members declined to elaborate on an agreement under which Varis stepped down immediately and received a $165,000 buyout on the remaining three years of his contract with the 1,400-student district.
In another incident involving classroom safety, six public schools reopened on Thursday in Mason, Ohio, after shutting down for two days following a mailed bomb threat traced to prison inmate.
The inmate, Christopher Kerr, 28, signed his name to a letter threatening that a bomb would be detonated in the Mason High School cafeteria on Wednesday. Intensive searches of all schools turned up no evidence of an explosive.
Kerr, who has been in solitary confinement at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, admitted to prison authorities that he sent the letter. They said he was still upset because he had been expelled from the high school several years ago.