A school district in southern Illinois is hoping to be the first in the state to allow their teachers to carry weapons on school grounds. In an effort to prevent school shootings, Keith Clark, a Century School District 100 board member, said the district inquired of its legal team to review Illinois law. They are studying to see if a provision that allows districts to hire some employees like security guards to carry guns would also allow teachers and other staff members to do the same, as long as they receive the proper training.
“I believe we are the first to go down this avenue,” said Clark.
Clark said the district will need to acquire legal clearance from the Illinois Attorney General’s office before teachers, administrators, janitors or even cafeteria workers could carry guns.
“We arm our Brink’s trucks because we hold value in it. We appoint security to guard our legislators, to guard our movie stars, but yet our most valuable asset in our society are our children and we do nothing,” said Clark.
The superintendent of Century, Landon Sommers, said the district has already invested in metal detectors, cameras and new doors, but he thinks all the options should be on the table.
“Some people feel very strongly both ways about it, but I feel it’s something we at least have to consider to make sure our kids are safe,” said Sommers. “It’s disheartening being in education having this conversation, but with everything going on it’s a conversation we have to have.”
A parent of a sixth grader who attends the Century Jr./Sr. High School, Kim Rarrack, said she’d feel comfortable if one of her son’s teachers carried a gun, as long as they’re trained.
“It could be good in a way and it could be bad in a way just depends,” said Rarrick. “If they train them in the right way, it would be good.”
But Illinois Education Association (IEA) President Kathi Griffin said arming teachers is a terrible idea.
“We need to stop repeating history and tackle the school shooting epidemic head on, but arming our teachers is not the answer. Our teachers and support staff members did not sign up to carry guns! They are not law enforcement. They became teachers and support staff because they wanted to help students learn and succeed,” said Griffin.
Griffin’s plan encourages schools to use the “Know Me, Know My Name” lesson plan to help identify students who could end up perpetrating violence in the school.
Keith Clark is moving forward in potentially arming teachers and believes that if the district gets legal clearance, teachers and staff members could receive training from the “Faster” program in Ohio.
Do you think this district with 360 students in southern Illinois is on the right track?
Credit: WSIL 3 ABC