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Hartshorne school to allow licensed staff to carry firearms

Posted: 12:24 PM, Jul 09, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-09 23:08:17Z

HARTSHORNE, Okla. -- A school in eastern Oklahoma has added a security measure allowing staff to carry firearms during school and at events.

The Hartshorne Public Schools Board of Education unanimously voted last month to allow personnel to carry guns so long as they're certified by the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.

"You have to keep your kids a little closer to you and you do have to trust your school because once they get on the school bus or you drop them off at the front door you don't see them again until the rest of the evening," parent Charlene Grove said.

Any teachers wanting to carry a firearm on campus will be required to obtain certification and must be approved by the superintendent. The school will look into hiring certified armed security guards if there's not enough interest from school personnel. Although staff has not seen the public speak out against this, they realize it's a controversial decision.

"To me, I think that's warranted. If we're going to have firearms around kids we need to know what we're doing. We need to be in the same training realm as a local law enforcement officer," superintendent Jason Lindley said.

The superintendent said the school is lucky to have law enforcement nearby. But often, these incidents play out before police respond.

"We have a lot of people in these rural communities that farm and ranch and those are great aspects. But when you try to educate their students you still want to try to keep them safe and those threats are just as real to them as they are in urban areas," Lindley said.

Staff are already voicing interest, as this was an ongoing conversation over the last two years. Now the budget will allocate $30,000 to $40,000 as a start.

The superintendent said the decision resulted from school security discussions following several school shootings in recent years. He says he knows the measure doesn't guarantee safety, but hopes it'll deter intruders.

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