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School board discusses arming Genoa teachers

School board discusses arming Genoa teachers

Officer: District is not training teachers to carry guns, many procedures are needed first

March 13th, 2018 by Jennifer Middleton in Texarkana Region

Darrell Klink, the school resource officer at Genoa Central School District, speaks to the district's board of directors Monday about how he has worked to increase school safety. Genoa Superintendent Angela Bryant is looking into several possibilities on how to do that, including deputizing teachers.

GENOA, Ark.—Genoa Central School District is not training teachers to carry guns, but it could happen in the future, according to the school resource officer.

Darrell Klink, who's been the SRO at Genoa for more than a year, said they will give teachers additional training on what to do during an active shooter event but many procedures must be put in place before teachers and staff will be allowed to carry firearms into the school.

"We are not training teachers to carry guns," he said. "We work hand-in-hand with teachers for the possibilities we face today."

The board of directors met Monday in regular session and heard a report from a group of concerned parents and a representative from the Miller County Sheriff's Office on possibly arming teachers and staff to protect students.

Superintendent Angela Bryant said last week she's looking at various ways Arkansas school districts are addressing the issue of school safety, including those that have deputized teachers. She said getting to that point is a long process and that if the board takes that route, she wants it to be done correctly and safely.

"I would not want the liability unless those people were somehow deputized and I know they have been properly trained," she said. "I want my teachers focusing on instruction. I am definitely not against it as long as it is done correctly. But I don't want everybody toting a gun. It would 100 percent be a deterrent if others are aware you may have some but they don't know who."

Miller County Sheriff's Office Lt. Alan Keller said deputizing and arming teachers is not as simple as the board making a decision.

"There's a lot to it," he said. "Those chosen will have to have 150 hours of training just like we do. We are looking at the responsibilities and liabilities and have to figure out which route and the best plan to take."

Keller said they send patrol officers out three or four times a day to the school.

Holly Coffee, a Genoa Central parent, told the board she and other concerned parents were happy the board was listening to their ideas and working to take additional steps to protect their children.

"Schools are so different now," she said. "We drop our kids off every day and it's scary. We just want to know that they're safe. I feel like there are several different measures that can be taken to ensure our kids are safe and working with our staff and administration is step one."

Keller said school safety is everyone's priority.

"We want Miller County to be more prepared than anywhere else, whatever it takes," he said. "Arming the teachers is not out of the picture. We have to put more research into it."

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