By MICHELLE REED AND AMANDA MCFARLAND
Ink Free News Staff Writers
KOSCIUSKO COUNTY — Current and future educators do not typically dream of one day being trained to carry and, if necessary, discharge a firearm on the job.
However, as school administrators continue to look for ways to keep students safe, one topic that has come up is whether or not select teachers and staff members should be trained and equipped with a firearm.
Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation
Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation Superintendent Brett Boggs sees both the pros and the cons of this idea.
“Accompanied by a wide range of questions that must be answered, it also presents new risks,” Boggs said. “A couple of those questions include, ‘what type of training and/or certification would be required before a teacher or staff member could carry a weapon? What is the potential danger of a student gaining access to a teacher or staff member’s weapon?’”
The topic has come up for discussion at TVSC more than once, Boggs said, adding that allowing weapons on school property could be controversial and would raise concerns for many.
TVSC currently employs an armed school resource officer, however he cannot be present in every building all the time, Boggs said. However, local law enforcement is still available to assist.
“An armed SRO in each school would be ideal, however, that’s not a realistic expectation,” Boggs said. “Our elementary schools are located in Akron and Mentone, where local law enforcement officers actively monitor the schools and are readily accessible if needed.”
TVSC’s police does allow employees to possess a firearm, so long as it is kept out of sight in a locked vehicle.
While the school corporation has not officially adopted an active shooter response program, TVSC administrators are also trained in ALICE
ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate and refers to a plan schools and other locations can implement in the event of an active shooter.
Arming teachers and staff members with weapons is not an issue of cost. The decision to arm teachers and staff members is a significant step for any school and must be given careful thought and consideration before such a policy is be adopted.
Warsaw Community School Corporation
When asked if training and arming select teachers and staff members would improve school safety, Warsaw Community Schools Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert said it is an issue that has been “hotly debated but Warsaw is going in a completely different direction.”
Hoffert said the safest avenue is to have trained police officers and that Warsaw Schools currently have a contract with the Warsaw Police Department for four full-time school resource officers to patrol the schools.
According to Hoffert, WPD comes in and leads with school safety and unification drills. Hoffert also believes another benefit from having the WPD in the schools is it builds positive relationships between the students and officers.
Not that the school staff is unprepared in case of an attack. The schools have district-level safety school academies that train for an active shooting or intruder situation and each of the principals of Warsaw schools go through school safety training for two days each year through the state of Indiana. Some of the principals have advanced training.
Hoffert states that, “The main goal is we want trained personnel and the Warsaw Police Department is the most equipped and most trained.”
As far as current firearm policy, Hoffert and school safety specialist David Roberts state that they follow Indiana’s no-tolerance code. If anyone brings a firearm to school, loaded or unloaded, he or she will be suspended and criminal charges will be pursued.