Thursday, September 20, 2018

Here's how some rural schools are arming teachers

Amid fears of school shooters, some rural school districts are allowing teachers and administrators to carry firearms. Here's how they're doing it:

Hallsville, Texas (Wikipedia map)
The school board in Hallsville, Texas (pop. 3,577), voted recently to allow three to five administrators to be armed by August 2019. Approved school guardians will be allowed to display or use the firearm on school property only if there's an active shooter or assailant using a weapon to seriously harm or kill others. Additionally, the district will have its own police department to patrol the district's five campuses," Brittany Williams reports for the Longview News-Journal.

The staff members selected to carry firearms must undergo a psychological evaluation, get a license to carry and handgun and complete extra training in crisis intervention and using a firearm. The approved guidelines didn't say what kind of firearms staffers could use, but specified that they were to use only "frangible" ammunition provided by police. Frangible bullets break into small pieces upon impact, Williams reports.

Lee County, Virginia (Wikipedia map)
In Lee County, Virginia (pop. 24,742), the school board voted last month to allow teachers to carry guns, Jennifer Ludden reports for NPR. The decision was partly an economic one, according to Supt. Brian Austin: "This was a very budget-driven decision, because we have determined that it would cost almost $600,000 to put a school resource officer in every one of our 11 schools. And if we had $600,000 at this point, it would go towards roof repairs and replacement as opposed to school safety -- even though school safety is our number-one priority in schools."

Austin said 37 teachers and staffers were interested in going armed when the proposal was approved. In order to qualify, they will have to pass a drug screen and a psychological evaluation. Guns are a better solution for his rural community than other plans, he said: "We had the incident in Indiana, where the young teacher was trying to defend his students and got shot. And some school boards started issuing buckets of rocks and bats. And we thought we could do better than that."

Butler County, Ohio (Wikipedia map)
A suburban school district in Butler County, Ohio, voted to allow staff to carry firearms in April, but a group of parents has filed suit against the Madison Local School District and its superintendent, alleging that the resolution violates a state law requiring armed school employees to be trained and certified as peace officers, Rick McCrabb and Denise Callahan report for the Journal-News in Liberty Township.

The parents say they have repeatedly asked the school board for specifics about how the staffers will be trained, rules of engagement, and where the firearms will be stored, but have not received any answers. Madison Superintendent Lisa Tuttle-Huff told the Journal-News that the policy would comply with state law, which requires training, drug screens and mental health evaluations.

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