A Kentucky school board voted unanimously in favor of a preliminary proposal Monday that would allow teachers to carry concealed weapons, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
The move followed a town hall meeting about school safety where parents, teachers, and administrators addressed their concerns with the Pike County School District.
The meeting was prompted by the attack two weeks ago that left 17 students dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and another shooting at Marshall County High School in Kentucky last month that left two dead.
The motion authorized the school board's attorney to begin working with the sheriff's department to develop the program to take back to the school board for final approval.
Superintendent Reed Adkins hopes to have final approval from the school board within two to three weeks and have armed staff members by the start of the next school year.
What are the preliminary plans for the program?
The Pike County Sheriff's Office would oversee the program, which would allow school employees to volunteer to serve as concealed-carry guards.
The guards would undergo a background test, drug test, mental evaluation, and a qualification course. They would also go through firearms training and combat training by the Sheriff’s Office, which offered the training for free.
Each guard would have to re-qualify as many as four times per year.
Are there any laws that may interfere with the process?
Currently, Kentucky state laws don't allow guns in schools, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Republican state Sen. Steve West hopes to change the law with Senate Bill 103, which would allow public and private schools to appoint trained school marshals.
Not everyone at the meeting agreed with the school board's proposal.
Jon Akers, executive director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety, said the idea of armed teachers "scares me to death."
“I don’t want to put down their ideas and their efforts down there, but I want them to proceed very cautiously,” Akers said. “Arming people who are not trained equal to that of law enforcement officers is risky.”
An armed staff may do more harm than good in a school shooting, he said. The teacher may accidentally shoot an innocent student, and there could be added confusion when law enforcement arrives on the scene.
But others said they supported the move.
“This is not an action to force teachers to do something they’re uncomfortable with, or are unwilling to do,” Timothy Cline, Pike a County Central High School English teacher, said. “It’s a big decision, granted, but it’s one we need to make now.”
The school's superintendent believes something must be done keep students safe.
“You hope you’re making the right decision for kids, but I know right now something’s got to be done,” Adkins said at the meeting. “We may be criticized, but at the end of the day I’ll take criticism to protect my students.”