Arming school staff debated at Warren County School Board

John Rohlf, Staff Writer
Posted 6/16/22

Warren County R-III community member and parent Carolyn Spraggs requested the Warren County R-III School Board look into authorizing use of school protection officers in the district during a recent …

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Arming school staff debated at Warren County School Board

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Warren County R-III community member and parent Carolyn Spraggs requested the Warren County R-III School Board look into authorizing use of school protection officers in the district during a recent public discussion.

Spraggs, who ran for a school board seat in this year’s election, proposed the board consider authorizing use of a school protection officer. Spraggs referenced the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

“I hope and pray nightly that our community never faces an event like that,” Spraggs said. “But sadly, hopes and prayers don’t always keep bad people at bay.”

After the school shooting, Spraggs started looking into what the district could do as a community to deter a potential school shooting in the future. She came across Missouri’s Second Amendment Protection Act, which allows school protection officers — civilians trained and authorized to carry firearms — to be utilized in schools.

“I’m bringing this to you to inform you of your options,” Spraggs said. “I want the community to be able to decide what happens with this.”

Missouri law allows a school district to designate one or more teachers or administrators as a school protection officer. The school protection officers are authorized to carry a concealed firearm or self defense spray device.

Spraggs noted Shield Solutions LLC, a private gun range that has been training school protection officers in other Missouri districts, provides certification to teachers in districts who want to become authorized as school protection officers. A district employee who trains with Shield Solutions becomes an employee of Shield Solutions when the weapon is drawn, Spraggs said. Shield Solutions provides insurance for these employees.

School District Superintendent Gregg Klinginsmith said that in the past, the Missouri School Board Association has recommended the district avoid any such policy because there were insurance concerns. Klinginsmith noted the insurance issue may now have been addressed.

However, the district has not had a teacher request to be a school protection officer, Klinginsmith said.
“I think if we had a teacher that wanted to do that, we would then go through the process and see if we want to do that,” Klinginsmith said. “But at this point, I have not had a teacher or any staff member reach out to me about doing this.”

Board member Sarah Janes believes it is important to hear from teachers when considering adding to teachers’ responsibilities.

“I am most interested, for something that is this serious and such an extra responsibility, I’d be wanting to hear from them,” Janes said.

Spraggs stressed participation would be voluntary. The district could designate Warren County R-III to be put on the list of schools that authorize school protection officers and not have anyone actively serving as a school protection officer. This could be a deterrent by saying there may be a school protection officer in schools, Spraggs said.

Board member Rodger Tucker believes it would be good to have the option available.

“It’s not an extra burden if they’re volunteering for that,” Tucker said. “I think it would be good to at least have that option.”

Board President Ginger Schenck said this is something the board needs to think about. She said she would need to look at more information before she is ready to have a well-educated discussion on whether to potentially approve use of a school protection officer.

Under Missouri law, a school protection officer would be required to keep their firearm or device under their personal control at all times while on school property.  Violation of the provision is a Class B misdemeanor and may result in the immediate removal of the officer from the classroom and commencement of employment termination proceedings.

School protection officers have the same power to detain and arrest as any other person would under the current law regarding defense of persons and property. Upon detention, the protection officer is required to immediately notify school administrators and school resource officers. If the person detained is a student, the parents of the students must also be immediately notified.

The law would require a district to hold a public hearing for whether to allow a school protection officer designation if they decide to pursue the designation.
No action on the issue was taken at last week’s meeting.

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