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Score another one for Wayne LaPierre and the NRA. Passaic Valley High School will soon have a pistol packin' principal.
Raymond Rotella, a career cop and former school resource officer, may become North Jersey's first school administrator to pack a pistol when he enters Passaic Valley Regional High School each day.
The decision to arm the principal is one of several moves the district has made to beef up security following the school shootings in Connecticut late last year, including developing a rigorous registration process for visitors and installing elaborate security entrances.
"Having a teacher or a principal carry a weapon is not a policy I would have recommended for most people," Superintendent Viktor Joganow said. "But we don't just have someone who is trained to use a weapon, we have someone who is trained to respond to a crisis."
Joganow said he sent 1,400 copies of a letter detailing the proposal and Rotella's qualifications to parents. While only a few parents responded, the reaction has been mostly positive, he said.
The Passaic Valley Regional school board will meet Tuesday to take up the first of two votes required to adopt a policy permitting Rotella to carry a weapon in the school.
Rotella has served as the high school's principal for the past three years. In his previous career as a Little Falls policeman, he served for four years as the high school resource officer. He's had his concealed weapons permit since he retired in 2007 as a police sergeant in charge of the department's firearms training unit.
Rotella sees the policy as a means to reassess the role of a school principal in a crisis. During a lockdown, he typically would be required to lock himself in his office or a classroom. But if the policy is approved, he said in an interview Wednesday, he would become an integral part of the school's security plan.
The best defense against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Bravo Principal Rotella for leading the way.
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