Southern Illinois school district aims to arm teachers - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Southern Illinois school district aims to arm teachers

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ULLIN -- A southern Illinois school district hopes to be the first in the state to arm its teachers, in an effort to prevent school shootings. 

Keith Clark, a Century School District 100 board member, said the district asked its legal team to review Illinois law, to see if a provision that allows districts to hire some employees to carry guns, like school security guards, would also allow teachers and other staff members to do the same, providing they received the proper training.

"I believe we are the first to go down this avenue," said Clark. 

He said the district needs to get 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.

Century's superintendent, Landon Sommers, said the district already invested in metal detectors, cameras and new doors. 

He thinks all 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."

Kim Rarrick, whose sixth grade son attends the Century Jr./Sr. High School, said she'd feel comfortable if one of his 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."

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 encourages schools to use the Know Me, Know My Name lesson plan to help identify students who could end up committing violence. 

Clark said hopefully the district will know if it will move forward with this idea of training and arming teachers and other staff members in about three weeks.

If the district got the legal clearance, he said teachers and staff members could receive training from the FASTER program in Ohio.

Century School District 100 is located just outside of Ullin in Pulaski County and has a student population of about 360.


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