FWCS School Security by Grace McCormick
In response to the numerous mass shootings of the 2017-2018 school year, state and local governments are taking extra precaution when it comes to security and safety in school.
The Florida Senate created a “school guardian program,” where individuals interested in being an armed guard for schools must undergo 112 hours of gun operation training, including eight hours of instruction on active shooter scenarios. Those interested in being an armed guard must also go through eight hours of learning defense tactics, 12 hours of learning about legal issues involving firearms and 12 hours of diversity training.
Schools can decide whether or not to participate in the school guardian program, allowing that it is an option in their county.
Texas has implemented similar programs – the Texas Marshall Plan and the Texas Guardian Plan. The Marshall Plan allows schools to appoint employees they think would be responsible in carrying firearms at school. These employees must be licensed and specially trained by Texas law enforcement. With the Marshall Plan, employees would not be allowed to carry guns around students.
The Guardian Plan allows school boards to determine the training standards employees need to meet in order to become authorized armed guards at school. Schools that choose the Guardian Plan will allow their guards to carry guns at all times.
The Florida program is more rigorous than Texas programs. In Florida, guardians will receive more training than state police officers. Another difference between the two is the Florida program consists of volunteers to be guardians, while the Marshall Plan involves arming employees already working at the school. It is illegal for employees who work only as teachers to be armed guards in Florida. However, those who are teachers as well as administrators or coaches are allowed to go through guard training.
Some school boards, parents and students think having armed guards will decrease the number of mass shootings.
The National Rifle Association has supported armed guards for years. A famous quote from CEO and vice president of the NRA Wayne LaPierre at a news conference in December 2012 is “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
With this idea in mind, many school boards have chosen to have more armed guards on their campuses. Indiana took a different route from other states. Instead of having more armed guards on school campuses, Governor Eric Holcomb offered handheld metal detectors free of cost to local schools. The metal detectors are meant to promote safety in school, without cost being a concern.
Any school can request one metal detector per every 250 enrolled students.
“This program is all about giving local school leaders one more resource at their disposal to include in their safety plans,” Mr. Holcomb said in a statement. “I am pleased so many of our schools have chosen to request these metal detectors.”
By July 19, more than 3,200 metal detectors were requested by Indiana schools. Most of them were delivered in the second and third weeks of August.
According to the governor’s office, 94 percent of public schools have requested metal detectors. Many private schools have also requested them.
FWCS Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson told The Journal Gazette, “The [school] board and administration are in talks regarding training, implementation and support of the use of handheld metal detectors.”
Dr. Robinson said this after the first deadline for ordering metal detectors passed. Schools had a ten day window in July to order metal detectors. Mr. Holcomb assured schools there would be another time to order metal detectors, but did not immediately specify when that time would be.
On August 15, FWCS spokeswoman Krista Stockman assured the community that FWCS will order metal detectors at the next opportunity window. The next available date for school districts to order is still being worked out by the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Department of Administration.
Snider teacher and former Air National Guard sergeant Mr. Mark Guitard said, “I saw that [FWCS] said no, and I thought, that’s stupid, it’s free money.”
Mr. Guitard said any precaution schools can take to make school campuses safer should be implemented. Referring to the 2012 Century 16 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, Mr. Guitard said, “That shooter knew that no one in that theater would have a gun.”
Secretary of Education Betsy Devos implied in August that instead of using federal funds for school clubs and programs, schools could use funds to arm teachers. If this were approved, Mr. Guitard would see it as a positive measure to increase security.
“Anything that we can use as a deterrent will make our schools safer,” Mr. Guitard said. “Give a gun to one administrator and the district can say ‘our teachers are armed.’”
Many teachers are weary of having guns in classrooms, but Mr. Guitard does not think the subject is cause for concern, and teachers who want to have guns would be responsible in handling them.
“They would have to be trained by law enforcement and basically have to become a police officer,” Mr. Guitard said.
Teacher Mr. Mark Matson is against being armed.
He said, “I would not want the responsibility of carrying a firearm in school.”
Mr. Matson said if he worked at a school that required teachers to have guns in their classrooms, he would look for other jobs.
“I think the last thing that would make schools safer would be arming teachers,” he said. “I can operate a firearm, but that is not my job. My job is to teach.”
Though he would not want a firearm to be his responsibility, Mr. Matson does not object to having armed guards on school campuses.
“It has never bothered me to have a police officer in the school,” Mr. Matson said. “I think a police officer could help in intense situations and possibly make schools safer.”
Mr. Matson is most concerned about how students feel while in school.
Even if metal detectors only have a placebo effect in making students feel safe, Mr. Matson believes “If we can eliminate the anxiety that students feel, if that helps them learn, we should do that.”
Mr. Guitard and Mr. Matson agree that students would feel safer with the addition of metal detectors in schools.
“Students would be annoyed at first, but they would get used to it,” Mr. Guitard said. “The goal should be to make our schools safe so students can focus on learning.”
Read Harrison Snyder’s opinion piece on metal detectors in schools: https://sniderpanthers.com/roars-rants/opinions/metal-detectors-in-our-schools/