Nashville superintendent on Texas tragedy: 'This is not a school issue. This is a society issue'

·2 min read

A presentation by Metro Nashville Public Schools officials to city leaders during a budget hearing this week turned to the pressing topic of school security and gun violence.

Metro Schools Director Adrienne Battle called on Metro Council members to work together to address gun violence following a massacre at an elementary school in Texas earlier this week.

"This is not a school issue. This is a society issue," Battle said Wednesday. "Our students deserve to to learn in safe environments."

"Mass murders have targeted schools, churches, grocery stores, concerts, any number of other venues in order to inflict harm," Battle added, referencing the May 14 shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, that left 10 people dead. "They have more often than not done so with weapons designed for military use, but are readily available — legally and illegally."

Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Adrienne Battle walks into the Cora Howe School's graduation ceremony in Nashville, Tenn. on Friday, May 20, 2022.
Metro Nashville Public Schools Director Adrienne Battle walks into the Cora Howe School's graduation ceremony in Nashville, Tenn. on Friday, May 20, 2022.

The mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, has reignited debates around gun control policy across the country and in Tennessee.

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Some criticized Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee's tweet Tuesday expressing condolences to the families impacted in Texas.

"Gov. Bill Lee, I know that gun violence hits close to home. If you and Maria Lee are truly heartbroken, please end permitless carry in TN as soon as you possibly can. Please save our children," Anna Caudill, a former teacher and a school advocate in Williamson County wrote in reply.

Tennessee has loosened access to guns in recent years, including allowing permitless carry for handguns and an effort by lawmakers this year to lower the age to carry a gun to 18.

On Wednesday, state Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, urged the governor to call a special session during a news conference so that lawmakers "can work together across the aisle and take action on this public health crisis.”

Metro Nashville Schools Director Adrienne Battle and Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake share a laugh during a live-streamed panel discussion held at The Tennessean on Thursday, May 27, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.
Metro Nashville Schools Director Adrienne Battle and Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake share a laugh during a live-streamed panel discussion held at The Tennessean on Thursday, May 27, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.

Nashville students aren't unfamiliar with gun violence. In Davidson County, at least 21 children age 17 or younger have been victims of gun violence so far this year, according to Metro Nashville Police Department data.

Last year, there were 48 victims of gun violence under the age of 17 in Nashville, many of them Metro Schools students.

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Battle told council members Wednesday night that she wasn't there "to prescribe a solution," but said she would "continue to rally around what's necessary to address this as a society issue, and more importantly, to keep our children and our educators and our staff safe."

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Meghan Mangrum covers education for the USA TODAY Network — Tennessee. Contact her at mmangrum@tennessean.com. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Metro Nashville Public Schools Director on Texas school shooting