Opinions vary on arming teachersBy TIM GETER,
Arming teachers in the local schools could become a reality in the near future.
According to Scott County Sheriff Mike Lee, “if teachers were prepared to handle situations such as an active shooter on campus by defending their room and their room only and be properly trained and qualified to be proficient then I see no problem with that.”
Lee said that if qualified trained teachers are armed, the weapon would have to be worn at all times in a proper holster adding that being inside the classroom and not entering the hallway would be the best way to handle an active shooter situation.
“The ability to stay in the room and locking the door and being able to defend that room only; in my opinion, is a much safer option for protecting the students,” Lee said.
The sheriff said if a shooter were to get through the door it is a more reasonable scenario that the teacher would be able to discourage or neutralize the shooter by engaging and protecting the students.
Teachers staying in the classrooms and not actively trying to look for the shooter in turn keeps the teacher or administrator safe since curing an active shooter scenario there is no time to find out if the person holding a gun is a teacher or faculty member.
“Our policy as many other department policies is to neutralize or stop the threat, therefore anyone with a gun going into the school to try and intervene could be seen as a threat.”
Having teachers armed on campus is something that school board members will have to decide is approved by the state Legislature.
“Having teachers armed on campus is an option that we will let our board members handle,” Forest Municipal Superintendent Dr. Joseph White said.
This option may be fine in some administrators eyes, however White pointed out that, no one needs to know who is carrying a weapon.
If the board makes the decision to have armed teachers on campus, “We do not want the public to know which teacher or administrator is carrying a weapon,” White said.
White reiterated that safety is the schools’ first priority. “During an event of an active shooter or any emergency of that matter, we need the public and parents to remain calm,” White said.
White also stated that in the event of such an emergency, there would be a 500 yard perimeter set up around the school and no one but authorities would be able to enter. Also, no students would be allowed to be picked up until an all clear is issued.
Some administrators, like Scott County School District Assistant Superintendent Chad Harrison, believe that arming teachers only, “in a perfect world where everything went right, would be a noble idea.”
“I worry about people being hot headed and making bad decisions. I worry about teachers feeling intimidated and making bad decisions in hostile situations possibly not even an active shooter threat,” Harrison said. “Another issue that is on my mind is when a teacher breaks up a fight that gun may end up in the wrong hands.”
When asked about other sources of security such as school resource officers Harrison said, “I would love to have two resource officers on every campus, but unfortunately that comes down to dollars and funding.” Harrison added that the Scott County School District has some of the lowest assessed values and lowest tax mileage in the state. “So yes, I would love to have more protocols than what we do have, unfortunately those dollars are hard to come by,” he said.
Sebastopol Attendance Center Principal Kaleb Smith has another view when it comes to arming a teacher. “Teachers have an overwhelming amount of responsibility, and our teachers do a great job, so no, I am against a teacher having a weapon,” Smith said. “It is our job as administrators to protect the children and teachers at our school. We have an emergency plan in place, If a situation were to occur, our teachers know how to handle the situation.”
It’s not only the administrators, principals, and law enforcement officials that have opinions on teachers being armed, but parents have their own ideas.
“There should be no policy that trumps the safety of our kids,” Jim Dilley said. “Arming the teacher is a good idea but probably the last defense.”
Dilley said that he believes in the right to bear arms and that he is a gun owner, however, he also stated that he didn’t know how comfortable he would be sending his kids to a school knowing that the teachers may be armed. “The security of the weapon on the teacher, and ability to use it concerns me,” Dilley said.
Access into the school is another of his concerns. “Limit where the students enter the building and exit the building,” Dilley said. “Also, add x-ray machines or metal detectors, do whatever it takes to minimize this happening to one of our schools, like I said, there is nothing that should trump the safety of our children.”
In conclusion, Sheriff Lee says teachers and students should always keep an eye out on things that may seem out of the ordinary. “Real world scenario training should be taken inside the classroom in case of an active shooter,” Lee said, “strategies need to be acted upon because you react the way you train. Don’t wait, react.”