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The Lake News Online
  • Teachers carrying firearms a long shot at largest lake-area districts

  • With the passing of Senate Bill 656, the Missouri Legislature has allowed school districts to designate one or more teachers or administrators to carry a concealed firearm or self-defense spray device. Those designated would be deemed school protection officers.
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  • With the passing of Senate Bill 656, the Missouri Legislature has allowed school districts to designate one or more teachers or administrators to carry a concealed firearm or self-defense spray device. Those designated would be deemed school protection officers.
    Faculty wanting to carry a concealed firearm may have the go ahead from the state, but school officials at the two largest lake-area districts are leery of the addition.
    “First and foremost that would have implications related to our insurance coverage. If that was somthing that our community wanted, we would need to take a look at our insurance carriers and possibly make some serious changes there," Camdenton R-III Superintendent Tim Hadfield said.
    Currently the district's coverage allows school resource officers to carry firearms but not teachers or other personnel.
    The insurance policy at School of the Osage also does not allow teachers or other personnel to carry firearms, according to Superintendent Brent Depeé.
    On a personal level, Hadfield said he was not comfortable with anyone other than trained law enforcement carrying weapons.
    "I think law enforcement has the training and background and we trust them to have firearms on school property," Hadfield added.
    At School of the Osage, Depeé indicated teachers with firearms would not be considered for the district.
    “Professionally, this is not a safety solution that School of the Osage will consider for our students,” he said. “Last month the board of education declined to adopt policy that would allow school personnel to carry fire arms. Personally, I like the idea and I like having the freedom to do so IF I choose. At School of the Osage, I choose not to.”
    If a school wished to give personnel an opportunity to become school protection officers, the bill states, "This act requires a school board that is seeking to designate a school protection officer to hold a public hearing on the matter. Notice of the hearing must be provided by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or county in which the school district is located at least 15 days before the hearing. The board may meet in a closed meeting to determine whether to allow the school protection officer to carry a concealed firearm or self-defense spray device."
    Hadfield also said that he would be for putting time, energy and resources to adding more school resource officers (SROs) to the district. Currently, Camdenton R-III has three full time SROs. Hadfield is optimistic that the number of officers could change in the future.
    "We are always open to that [adding more officers] as our district continues to grow," he said. "We always want to take a look at how to provide the safest environment for our kids."
    Page 2 of 2 - Depeé said that leaders at School of the Osage have had discussions on the appropriate number of SROs in the district. The district currently has one.
    Designating select teachers and administrators as school protection officers, training them and allowing them to carry concealed weapons in the classroom would be allowed under the legislation approved by the Legislature. The House vote was 111-28 on May 16. The Senate approved the bill the day before.
    After lawmakers adjourned, Nixon expressed some reservations and said he would review the bill.
    "School safety is important," he said. "I never believe guns in classrooms are a way to keep security and class order."
    The legislation, SB 656, which was delivered to the Governor on May 30, would also lower the minimum age required to get a concealed weapons permit to 19 from 21 and allow permit holders to carry openly, even in municipalities that ban open carry.
    In addition, health care professionals could not be required to ask or document whether a patient owns or has access to a gun and public housing authorities could not ban tenants or their family members from possessing firearms.
    At least one Missouri school already allows the arming of teachers — Fairview School, a rural elementary school district in Howell County outside West Plains.
    A New York Times story published on April 14, 2013, explained that the school board, which at the time included a former county sheriff, worked out the liability coverage with the school’s insurance provider, and in February 2013 authorized a training program for school employees.
    Those employees underwent a 40-hour course in March 2013. The employees furnish their own guns, pass a background check and undergo drug testing and mental evaluation each year.

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