INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Helping teachers at public schools learn how to shoot a gun: The idea’s already received strong support in the Indiana Legislature.
The bill to train teachers passed the House with a 72-25 vote and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development.
In Rep. Jim Lucas’ eyes, letting schoolteachers get extensive training to learn how to shoot will help protect children if an attack ever happens.
Beth Sprunger, the co-state chapter lead for the Indiana Chapter of Moms Demand Action, said, the idea of guns at schools “scares me. I’ve got a kid in third grade and I’ve got two more coming up.”
“I would absolutely move if I thought there were going to be guns in my school carried by teachers,” Sprunger said.
She said she believes teachers don’t need guns.
“If a gun gets misplaced or a kid gets a hold of it or a teacher gets angry … who knows?” Sprunger said.
Lucas, a Republican from Seymour, said he at least wants teachers to have the option of proper training.
“This will provide those teachers and staff the opportunity to be able to defend themselves,” Lucas said. “Not just themselves, but their students as well.”
Lucas’ bill would not require teachers to take handgun training but would allow the school district to tap into state money to pay for that voluntary training, roughly from $1,500-$2,000 per person.
“A last line of defense, so to speak, in the horrible event of an active shooting scenario,” Lucas said.
In December, a 14-year-old teenage suspect died after a shooting at a Richmond school. In May, a student and teacher were shot inside Noblesville West Middle School.
Plus, in February 2018, 17 people were killed and 17 others were wounded at a South Florida High School.
“We take school safety seriously,” Lucas said. “We’re not taking away from mental health treatment, that’s obviously an important component, or hardening schools. We’ve seen those fail time and time again.”
The Jay County Schools superintendent said last month that the district has trained its employees, who can get to a gun stored in a biometrics safe during an emergency.
“A teacher’s first priority is instruction,” said Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association. “It is not to pack a firearm.”
Many teachers have told Meredith they don’t want to be armed.
“They shouldn’t have to be concerned about a firearm,” Meredith said. “Where it’s at. Is it locked? Is it unlocked? Who has access to it? All those questions.”
CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — Carmel Clay School officials announced the selection of a new superintendent Friday amid unrest in Hamilton County and the state over student safety.
Michael Beresford will take the position vacated in February by Nicholas Wahl, who resigned after being placed on administrative leave along with Corinne Middleton, who was the district’s human resources director .
Beresford is no stranger to Hamilton County; he’s been employed with Hamilton Southeastern Schools, based in Fishers, for 25 years, most recently as assistant superintendent.
“There’s not a day in my career where safety wasn’t the first priority,” Beresford said.
It is a significant time to be at the helm of a 16,000-student school district. Carmel High School recently made headlines for violent threats made at the school, and, one week ago, a student shooter brought two handguns into a seventh-grade classroom in Noblesville West Middle School and injured a student and a teacher.
“When it happens right down the road with people I know and people I care about, it’s even more devastating,” he said. “Anything that happens we always review what happened, look into and see what can we do to prevent this from happening again.”
While aware that school security is often parents and staff members’ first priority, Beresford said he’s not rolling out any new programs.
“As far as doing something, bringing something brand new and trying something out, it’s more about evaluating what happened and seeing what we can do to try to prevent this,” he said.
Parents in Carmel say something needs to change to prevent more school shootings.
“As a parent getting ready to send kids to elementary school it makes me very nervous and it’s heartbreaking and it’s terrible,” said Carmel parent Annie Mckeand.
She said the solution does not begin with the superintendent.
“I think we need people in legislation that are willing to make those changes. I think we need to start there,” Mckeand said.
Former teacher Jan Ballak drew a connection between school violence and world violence from her experiences teaching in 2001.
“At the time when the Twin Towers came down and comforting little ones in second grade at that time, I find it no different. We are still in a time where there is unrest as far as safety in the schools,” Ballak said.
For now, the new superintendent said he wants bring parents into the world of school security decision making.
“It’s a very multilayered approach to school safety. And there some layers the public will never know about because we don’t compromise our school safety programs, but at the same time I think we need to give parents the look behind the curtain again,” Beresford said.
However, first he wants to hear what Carmel parents, administrators, students, teachers and support staff have to say.
“Over the first 100 days I plan to listen. A listening tour of sorts,” he said.
Per Indiana state law, Bersford’s proposed contract will be available on Carmel Clay School’s website. Public input may be made on the contract at 7 p.m. June 11 at the Educational Services Center, 5201 E. Main St. The school board anticipates taking final action on the contract 7 p.m. June 19 at a special board session. Beresford’s start date is set for July 1.