One Kentucky county is going ahead with its controversial plan to let teachers carry guns.
Pike County School Board on Monday unanimously voted in favor of a preliminary proposal that would allow teachers to conceal carry firearms on campus, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.
The move was prompted by a high school shooting that left 17 dead in Florida this month, as well as a shooting that killed two students at a Kentucky high school last month.
Under the program pushed forward Monday, school faculty would be able to volunteer to carry a gun and act as armed guards.
Any teacher who chooses to participate would undergo background checks, drug tests, mental evaluations, and firearms tests. The Sheriff’s Office would offer free firearms training.
Participants would have to requalify as many as four times a year.
Following the vote, the school board’s attorney will work with Pike Country Sheriff’s Office to devise a final plan that will also need approval by the board.
Superintendent Reed Adkins told the Herald Leader he would like to see the plan approved within the next few weeks and teachers armed by the fall semester.
“You hope you’re making the right decision for kids, but I know right now something’s got to be done,” Adkins said. “We may be criticized, but at the end of the day I’ll take criticism to protect my students.”
During the town hall meeting at which the proposal was passed, most parents and school administrators supported the idea of using armed staff to counter shooting threats.
“This program … could be a model for the rest of the state and, possibly, the country,” contended state Sen. Ray Jones, a Democrat.
The school board also took into consideration other safety measures, such as installing cameras and offering more counseling for troubled youth.
Jon Akers, executive director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety, was one of the plan’s few detractors, arguing that “every educational group across the country” opposes arming teachers.
English teacher Timothy Cline supported the plan. “This is not an action to force teachers to do something they’re uncomfortable with, or are unwilling to do,” he said. “It’s a big decision, granted, but it’s one we need to make now.”
Kentucky lawmakers are currently considering legislation that would allow schools throughout the state that cannot afford school resource officers to designate teachers as armed “school marshals.”
President Trump has been a vocal proponent of letting school staff conceal carry.