NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City-area school district is adding an extra layer of protection for its youngest students.

Starting next month, North Kansas City will have new armed security guards in its elementary schools. 

But some parents are questioning the need for guns in schools — and the private security firm’s faith-based approach.

“I think that money could pay for a lot of free and reduced lunches myself, so I’d rather see funds that are available to the schools be invested not in militarized security,” said Dylan Pyles who has two 3rd graders in the district.

Pyles said he’s angry with the district’s decision to spend $2.7 million on 28 certified school protection officers.

“I’m also deeply concerned about my children’s safety,” Pyles said. “Personally, I don’t feel armed law enforcement in schools make schools or my kids safer.”

A University at Albany and RAND study over four years shows SRO’s “do effectively reduce some forms of violence in schools, but do not prevent school shootings or gun-related incidents,” the study said.

The North Kansas City School District said in a statement: 

In an effort to enhance security at all North Kansas City Schools’ buildings, the district is working to place 28 School Protection Officers in several schools. The Protection Officers will add another layer of security along with the 18 school resource deputies and officers (SRDs and SROs) already in place who are committed to protecting students and staff. NKC Schools’ top priority is to provide a safe learning environment for its 21,000+ students. 

NKC Schools is working with Strategos International, a nationally recognized security training company to staff all schools and buildings throughout the district without a full-time SRD. Currently, two SRDs or SROs are dedicated to each high school, one to each middle school, and four travel daily across our 22 elementary sites. The protection officers will expand our full-time safety and security presence to all schools and district buildings. 

The decision was made to pursue Protection Specialists after careful consideration. Many parents expressed interest in increasing security in and around schools. The district wanted to decrease response times to schools in the event of an incident. In light of recent school violence incidents across the country, the district saw an opportunity to enhance safety at all schools and buildings. 

Rob McLees, NKC Schools Director of Safety and Security, says: “In an emergency, every second counts. An immediate response is a crucial factor in ensuring safety. With the addition of the protection officers on site, we can better respond in case of a serious incident.” 

They will provide a visible presence during arrival, dismissal, and in the office throughout the day. They will also participate in school drills and emergency planning as well as regularly check doors and security measures. 

NKC Schools has an established partnership with Strategos who provides active shooter training for all staff. According to Strategos, “The school protection officers are high-quality professionals who are vetted, drug tested, and highly trained to provide both an armed deterrent and de-escalation response to protect your community’s most important asset, which is the students and the staff who educate them.” 

Protection officers will undergo a rigorous three-week training program by Strategos before being assigned to a school. Protection Officers will also receive ongoing training. The first class of 14 Protection Officers is expected to be in place at the beginning of February. It’s anticipated that all schools and buildings will be fully staffed with a full-time SRD, SRO or protection officer by this spring. 

North Kansas City Schools

The security company also wrote a faith-based blog, titled “What God’s word says about use of force,” which caught some parents’ attention.

“My kids’ school and North Kansa City as a school district is extremely diverse with tons of different faiths and beliefs and types of people, and it just makes me scared for the type of environment that those kids will now be in,” Pyles said.

FOX4 asked the district about the blog. We didn’t get answers to all of our questions.