DUBLIN, Ga. (AP) – A Georgia school system has decided to allow its employees to carry guns.
The Laurens County school board has approved a policy allowing select staff to carry guns on school property, in vehicles and at school functions, The Telegraph reported .
Laurens County Schools is believed to be the state’s only district to go forward with such a policy, said Justin Pauly of the Georgia School Boards Association.
Teachers and staff who carry guns will do so on a voluntary basis and receive intensive training, Laurens County Schools Superintendent Dan Brigman said. He says the policy will be developed with the county sheriff’s department.
Brigman said the district is not arming all teachers, “nor will we have teachers or any other staff members ‘openly’ carrying firearms during the school day. “The processes to support this approved policy will be developed in a very careful and confidential manner in partnership with the Laurens County Sheriff’s Department.”
A 2014 Georgia law left it up to individual districts to decide if employees could carry guns on school property. Districts that opt to implement weapons policies must follow specific requirements for the approval of employees to participate; the types of weapons and ammunition allowed; firearms training; licensing; and securing weapons.
In Laurens County, implementing the new policy is still in the planning stages, and officials have not determined how many employees will carry guns or when they are allowed to start.
“Time is of the essence when it comes to a school crisis, particularly the threat of an active shooter on campus,” Brigman said.
“Our county’s size often creates a great amount of time for law enforcement to respond to our outlying schools,” he added. “It’s essential that we have plans and protocols in place to develop somewhat of a first-responder process to extend beyond the school lock-down.”
There’s a misconception that the district will be handing out guns to teachers at the door, but that’s not the case, school board chairman Kenny Stewart said. He urged community members to familiarize themselves with the policy and call the board of education if they have questions, concerns or suggestions.
Shaketha Marion, who has children in third and sixth grades at East Laurens Elementary, isn’t pleased about the policy’s passage. She’s concerned about staff members being armed without proper experience handling dangerous situations.
“I think there are other ways they can provide security for the students and the staff,” she said. “(Teachers) have a lot to deal with as it is. I really think they just need a security officer at each school and even metal detectors. To see that they didn’t even look at that as a possibility and just went straight for the guns, it shocked me.”