Abington, PA – An Abington Board of School Directors member falsely accused police of “regularly” shooting people and endangering “students of color” during a public board meeting on Jan. 21.
The board was discussing a policy change to restore the Abington School District police officer’s arrest powers on school property following a series of law changes, as well as training requirements for that officer, when a board member took the conversation into a much broader area.
“Question. Um, school police officers are not, by law, required to carry firearms, is that right?” board member Tamar Klaiman asked during the meeting.
Other board members confirmed her understanding was correct before she continued.
“Yeah. I have concerns about anybody carrying firearms in the schools,” Klaiman declared.
She then proceeded to level false accusation against police in order to justify her stance.
“I mean, this may not be the appropriate venue or time to talk about this, but there’s a lot of evidence that anybody carrying a firearm in a district building puts kids at risk – particularly students of color,” Klaiman asserted.
“We know that black and brown students are much more likely to be shot by police officers – especially school resource officers – than other students, and I have serious concerns about anybody in the buildings having firearms, regardless of whether or not they’re police, so,” she added.
“Police officers also shoot people, pretty regularly, so,” Klaiman quipped later in the meeting.
Despite Klaiman’s claims, there have not been any instances in which a law enforcement officer has shot an unarmed student inside a school, the Glenside Local reported.
In a letter to Abington School District families on Monday, Board of Directors President Shameeka Browne noted that Abington Township Police Chief Patrick Molloy would be attending the Feb. 4 meeting to help provide factual information “pertaining to the long-standing relationship” between the district and the police force.
“Given the amount of public interest in this topic and the Board’s desire to hear from the community, we are scheduling this presentation to be held at the next Board meeting,” Browne wrote. “We encourage and value your attendance and participation.”
Klaiman said she plans to apologize to the school resource officers during the meeting in February.
She said that she has “strong personal feelings” about firearms in schools and the “disparate impact of disciplinary actions on students of color,” but admitted that her comments were “offensive,” according to her Facebook post.
“I said something that I deeply regret, and I would like to apologize,” Klaiman wrote. “I am proud of the relationship between ASD and the police department in this community. I am also aware that Abington is a leader in community policing and building bridges.”
“What I said was offensive, and I am sorry,” she continued. “The School Board is meeting with the police department and the school resource officers next week, and I plan to apologize to them in person, as well as the community at large. I am not perfect, and when I make a mistake, I am willing to own up to it and apologize. I look forward to a productive meeting next week, and having a positive relationship with the APD moving forward.”
The post received hundreds of comments – almost all of which blasted Klaiman for perpetuating a false, anti-police narrative and for failing to educate herself about the facts surrounding officer-involved shootings.
“Perhaps you should educate yourself – because what you stated is patently false – and rhetoric like that contributes to the anti police climate,” one Facebook user wrote.
“Your insensitive, racist & most of all, divisive comments cannot be excused. You do not represent the Abington community and serve only to drive a wedge,” another user wrote. “You should resign immediately…The majority of us are more interested in the safety of our children than your misguided political agenda which has no factual backing.”
The National Fraternal Order of Police (NFOP) released a statement about Klaiman’s comments on Tuesday morning.
“Dr. Tamar Klaiman…suggests that officers in schools shoot children of color for no reason with no facts to support the claim,” the NFOP said. “Those who push these false narratives are proactively working to destroy the positive relationships we are building with our communities for no reason other than to satisfy an agenda.”
“An officer who would stand between a gunman and someone’s child in school deserves more respect than this board member is willing to give!” the NFOP added.