School of the Osage considering arming employees

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LAKE OZARK, Mo. -- School of the Osage’s safety task force will look into training staff members how to use firearms, potentially paving the way for teachers to bring their guns to work.

It’s the first step down a long road, superintendent Dr. Brent Depee says, but they haven’t committed to walking the rest of it yet.

“I do not want to make decisions based on emotion because I know emotions are running very high right now,” Dr. Depee said.

Their safety task force will consider the plan, and would potentially work with West Plains company Shield Solutions to train their staff. Shield Solutions also offers shooter response training, and works with law enforcement agencies as well as “soft targets” like schools and churches.

This is hardly a discussion Dr. Depee expected to have seven years ago when he came on as superintendent.

“Never,” he said. “Never. But, the world is evolving and changing. It wasn't that long ago when it was the wild west and everyone was carrying guns to defend themselves, and it's sad that I feel like we're going backwards. As educators we're always looking to improve and for better ways to educate and protect our kids.”

The school’s PTA president, Ann Duncan, also proposed buying door lock reinforcements that could be installed on classroom doors in seconds if the unthinkable happened.

But, these aren’t mutually exclusive ideas.

“My husband asked me, 'would you be able to shoot someone?'” Duncan said. “And I don't think any of us could answer that question unless we were in that exact situation. I think I could if my kids were standing right next to me and I think I would for other kids, but who knows?”

The school system does have an armed school resource officer.

The task force isn’t expected to come back with a recommendation about arming teachers until late spring or early summer.

“I will say that I am willing to be armed and go through that training,” Dr. Depee said. “I would do that. I have some questions about whether I would ask a kindergarten teacher to do that. I think there are some kindergarten teachers in our district that could do that and would do that.

“I just know that I did not get into education so I could carry a gun and shoot bad guys. But, at this point in my life, I would be willing to do that.”