Marion C. Early School District approves to arm some teachers for students' safety
Another school district in the Ozarks will allow some teachers to carry guns for the protection of students, but only after hours of intense training. Among them are Wheatland, Dadeville, Skyline and Hermitage. The latest district to arm teachers is Marion C. Early in Morrisville.
The school board made the decision last week after nearly a year of discussion. Some teachers will be armed with concealed weapons and self-defense spray.
MCE Superintendent Josh Angel said he never imagined the need for armed teachers, but it's needed now, because students' safety comes first.
"We understand it's an unfortunate time when districts have to face this type of decision, but for our district, we felt it was a necessary action in order to protect our staff and our students," Angel said.
Morrisville has a population of about 400, but does not have a local police department. If an emergency were to happen at the school, it could take several minutes before Polk County deputies to respond, at a time when seconds count. That's why, Angel said, having trained officers on campus is a must.
"It could be anywhere from 2 minutes to 30 minutes, so we have to able to provide quick action," he said.
Angel said teachers will be strategically chosen based on their location in the building, classes they teach and their all-around fit for being armed. He said he will be the only person who knows which teachers have weapons.
No one would be forced to carry a gun, but those who volunteer and are then picked will be trained through the Peacekeepers program. The president of that academy, Dwayne Doran, said other rural districts are training teachers, too. Doran said, sometimes it comes down to a money. He said arming teachers can be cheaper than hiring school resource officers.
"You're talking about anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 to train each one of them versus 10's of thousands of dollars for each resource officer," Doran said.
Angel said that was a factor for MCE, but he would like to have a combination of armed teachers and SROs. He said part of the district's "safety and security plan" is to eventually get full-time resource officers on campus as well.
"We are going to do whatever we can do to protect our kids," Angel said.
The Peacekeeper training consists of 120 hours of combined classroom education and gun range experience. Angel said he hopes to have his teachers in training as early as the start of September. He said they might be armed by the end of this school year.