During a retreat on Wednesday, the Floyd County Board of Education heard a report on the arming of teachers but took no action — and at this point the measure doesn’t seem likely.
Following the mass shooting in May at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the board asked school system security chief Rick Flanigen to compile a set of guidelines if the board decides to eventually take up the proposal.
Overall, board members signaled hesitancy Wednesday in moving forward with the idea of arming teachers.
As part of the discussion during the board retreat, Flanigen and Floyd County Police Department Capt. Ron Hunton and school resource officer supervisor Sgt. Stephen Wacker took a look at the armed teacher programs in Laurens and Fannin Counties, which are the only two in the state.
The local guidelines they came up with call for any such program to be voluntary, and there should be at least two weeks or 80 hours of training. Flanigen added that all volunteers would, if passed, have to use the same weapon, a Glock 17.
The estimated cost, if 34 employees signed up, would be $82,460.
“I remain unconvinced that this is a good use of our resources,” Flanigen told the board. “For the same money, we could probably employ two more school resource officers.”
Flanigen, a law enforcement veteran, was pressed on whether or not he would recommend arming teachers and administrators, and his response was “No.”
Other potential issues could include liability for the school system because there is no precedent and there are so many legal uncertainties. Another unknown is whether or not there would be a “duty to protect” established for armed employees like there is for law enforcement officers.
“I hope people understand that we are telling you that if something happens where lethal force is required, we expect you to do it,” Flanigen added. “Can some people really shoot someone? That’s tough.”
The school system now has a total of eight SROs, two of which were hired this year. Flanigen also gave administrators and staff high marks for staying focused and doing an outstanding job securing the schools.
“I have been going out and spot-checking the schools, and I am so happy that doors are locked. Teachers are teaching behind locked doors and exterior doors are locked,” Flanigen added.