Butler County’s largest school districts are taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to adopting a policy similar to one passed by Edgewood City Schools that will allow administrators to carry loaded handguns onto school property.
“I have no idea why they (Edgewood) thought that was necessary. We rely on those trained professionals,” said Marcia Andrew, president of the Middletown Board of Education. Middletown City Schools has two school resource officers who patrol the high school and middle school.
Don Murray, the president of Fairfield’s school board, did not want to talk about specifics of the district’s plans, saying those things have been discussed with law enforcement officials and the school board behind closed doors for security’s sake.
“I don’t know what influences Edgewood in terms of their security … but security discussions in Fairfield are always held in executive session and they’re not discussed in public,” Murray said.
Don Nuss, Fairfield school board vice president, said a possible concealed carry policy “might come up in discussion at our next meeting.”
“I don’t know that I’m in favor or against it either way,” he said. “But I’d really have to think about it, and really look at a policy before I could make a decision about whether I liked it or not.”
Edgewood’s concealed carry policy, adopted unanimously by the board Monday night, is the first at a school district in Southwest Ohio. It applies to administrators only — principals, deans of students and those in the central office. Teachers are not eligible at this time because that would require negotiation with a separate policy, Edgewood superintendent Doug Lantz said.
The policy stipulates that an administrator wishing to carry a firearm on school grounds must first obtain permission from the board and an Ohio concealed carry license. But even if an administrator already has such a license, that’s not enough, per the policy. He or she must also complete a basic peace officer training course at their own expense, so taxpayers do not foot the bill.
One such peace officer course, offered on the Butler Tech campus, entails 680 hours of coursework and costs $6,000, said a spokeswoman for Butler Tech. The only way the peace officer training would not be required under the policy is if the administrator had 20 years of experience as a law enforcement officer.
Right now, none of the administrators in Edgewood are eligible to carry firearms, so none of them will be carrying once school starts in the fall, Lantz said.
Edgewood’s policy is similar to one adopted this month by Newcomerstown Schools in Tuscarawas County of eastern Ohio. Like Edgewood, Newcomerstown’s policy was prompted by deadly school shootings in Newtown Conn., and other cities, said Newcomerstown’s past board president Arlene Mayhew.
But Newcomerstown’s policy is not limited to administrators. It is open to teachers, and indeed, any employee of the district, Mayhew said. However, each applicant must also have a concealed carry license, plus a three-day training course by the Buckeye Firearms Association. Simply learning how to handle and fire a gun is not enough, according to their policy.
“Just CCW is not enough. There is much more intense training where you learn to diffuse a situation and you learn psychological profiling. Not everyone is suited to carry a firearm,” Mayhew said.
Newcomerstown spent “several months” crafting the policy, which was unanimously approved, Mayhew said. There has been some negative reaction, but “most comments from our constituents have been positive,” she added.
For security reasons, it is Newcomerstown’s policy not to say how many people have taken the training, or where they work. But Mayhew did say “some” employees have taken interest.
Reaction among local residents was mixed.
“I don’t like guns in school. They’ll find out who has the guns, and they’ll go and kill them first,” said Trenton resident Larry Robinson, referring to any potential shooter. “Rather than carry guns, they need metal detectors in the schools to notify the police without anybody having to call.”
Resident Ann Roberts said she is not comfortable with guns, personally, but she has no problem with administrators having guns in school.
“I think there would have to be a lot of precautions and a lot of liability” for teachers to have guns, she said.
Tanya and Jeff Marshall, both of Trenton, have a daughter in Edgewood schools and were OK with the policy.
“I don’t see anything wrong with it,” Jeff Marshall said.
“As long as they were trained, that would be the biggest thing,” said Tanya Marshall.
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