Teachers, assistants dropped from gun-carry debate

The Sunman-Dearborn School Corporation Board of Education may be one meeting away from allowing employees to be armed in school, but teachers and instructional assistants have been eliminated from consideration.

The board, on Aug. 9, had the official first reading of a resolution that, if passed, would start in motion the process for schools to have a concealed carry policy.

The board heard discussion from 24 people at its July 12 meeting both for and against having guns in the schools. On Aug. 9, only two people spoke about the new policy.

The proposal calls for an employee who wants to carry a gun to pass a psychiatric evaluation; the weapon must be a semi-automatic, fire only frangible (bullets that are brittle and can break up and not ricochet), not have a chambered round, and it must be carried at all times and not be stored in the buildings.

Employees would have to complete two training courses, and then be approved by the board. The names of the employees would be kept confidential.

Two changes were made to the policy discussed on July 13: “(the policy) would apply to any Sunman-Dearborn Community School Corporation employee whose primary responsibility is not the direct supervision of students or whose primary job location is not a classroom,” according to Superintendent Andrew Jackson.

He said teachers and instructional assistants would not be permitted to conceal carry at school. Several people at the July 13 meeting said they did not agree with teachers carrying guns.

The other change moved the training requirement out of the policy and into the administrative guidelines of the corporation.

The resolution states: “The superintendent shall develop Administrative Guidelines to address training, continuing education, and reauthorization.”

“I don’t think we want to advertise the way we are training, first of all,” Jackson told the board, “and then it also allows us to be more flexible. … The administrative guideline would not take board approval, so if we need to adjust it we can adjust it without having an executive session to discuss it.”

There was no vote at the Aug. 9 meeting. The resolution is expected to be brought back for discussion at the Thursday Sept. 13, meeting (7 p.m. in the East Central High School library).

Victoria Crimmel, who lives in Hidden Valley and has just enrolled her three children in the schools this year, said she is against having guns in school.

“I’m glad you are no longer discussing arming teachers … (but) it is still a major concern for many of us and for many who did not know about this meeting until a couple of hours ago and weren’t able to be here,” she said.

She told the board about three incidents where guns were discharged at schools by someone who had been cleared to have a conceal carry. One of those, she said, was by a teacher who had barricaded himself in a room and shot out a window.

“All of these kids who’ve lived through this are saying please don’t, please don’t do this,” Crimmel said.

“So listen to the kids. Listen to the parents who are concerned. I’m glad you don’t want to arm teachers, but the idea of putting more guns in here just terrifies me.”

She warned the board that if the policy passes, parents would pull their children from the corporation.

“If this is passed, we will be going to Lawrenceburg and I know there are tons of others” who will leave the corporation,” she said.

“And you are talking about enrollment going down, it’s going to drop more when the rest of us go to neighboring schools …”

Board President Mike Norman said this is not the only part of school security the corporation is studying. “There are multiple avenues and multiple vines of this happening at the same time too.”

The Sunman Dearborn Educators Association conducted a survey among members and passed that to Jackson about a week ago “so they can discuss it, and the board will have the information (of) our thoughts,” said association president Brenda Osman.

The survey was performed anonymously so the members could give their comments. Osman said about 50 of the approximately 120 members returned the survey.

“(The comments) runs the gamut from no guns to yes have a concealed carry (policy),” she said. “At least the members got a chance to share their feelings.”

The association has not taken a stand on the policy.

Jackson told the board it took courage to even consider a concealed carry policy. He said he hasn’t touched a gun in 25 years, but if asked he would volunteer to carry a gun.

“If the board would come to me and say we need you to do this, we need you to have a gun, I would do it,” he said. “And if that means, because by doing that, our students are safer, our staff members are safer, there’s not even a question.”

He said safety is the No. 1 issue he faces, and the students need to feel safer and to be safe.

“You need both. If you are safe but don’t feel safe you don’t learn,” Jackson said.

“And if you feel safe but your aren’t safe, there’s a problem there too. So we need both of those.

“There is a sacred trust when you put you kid on the bus at eight o’clock in the morning, or you drop him off that they come home at three o’clock in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, there are some people who think they can break that sacred trust.”