Missouri

One Missouri Ozarks district is discussing arming teachers, another already has them

An instructor with a security company called Shield Solutions LLC in West Plains, Mo. conducts a training session.
An instructor with a security company called Shield Solutions LLC in West Plains, Mo. conducts a training session. Shield Solutions LLC

Following a mass school shooting that killed 17 in Parkland, Fla., President Donald Trump suggested last week that some "gun-adept" teachers and staff should carry concealed firearms to prevent shootings.

In Missouri's Ozarks region, at least one school board is considering the idea while another school has had armed teachers since the Sandy Hook mass shooting in 2012.

The superintendent of School of the Osage, a 1,900-student school district near Lake of the Ozarks, said in a Facebook post that the school board spent part of its meeting Monday discussing the idea of training "select school personnel to utilize multiple solutions, including weapons, as an added layer of proactive defense."

The school board specifically discussed hiring Missouri-based Shield Solutions LLC to train faculty and staff. The training school was started by a former Missouri Highway Patrol trooper named Greg Martin, according to a 2014 story in The Star.

Shield Solutions, located in West Plains, Mo., is the same company that's already provided training to at least 20 other schools in the state, including Fairview R-XI School District.

Fairview, a school district in rural West Plains, has had armed teachers in its schools for years, the superintendent told the Springfield News-Leader last week.

Shield Solutions says it specializes in business and school security. It conducts weapons training and active shooter response classes as well as an extensive firearms training program for teachers and staff, according to its website. The business says "select employees" carrying concealed handguns in schools must pass an initial 40-hour training as well as a psychiatric evaluation.

At Fairview, Superintendent Aaron Sydow explained to the News-Leader that "several" armed teachers passed the initial training and are also required to undergo additional training each year if they wish to continue carrying a gun to school.

In another interview with KY3, Sydow said having armed teachers has received little opposition from parents. The superintendent pointed out that arming teachers could be beneficial for rural schools, where it may take several minutes for law enforcement to respond in the event of an active shooter on campus.

Teachers and staff in other Missouri districts have also gone through firearms training provided by Shield Solutions, including the Warsaw School District. Warsaw was one of the first in the state to do it, The Star reported in 2014. Like Fairview, the Warsaw School District has armed staff members in its school buildings, the superintendent said Wednesday.

As for arming teachers at School of the Osage, Superintendent Brent Depeé said in a statement no decisions have been made yet on the matter, but it is expected to be addressed by the school district's safety task force in the near future.

"We are looking at all alternatives to keep our children safe," Depeé said. "BOE president, Mary Whitman, invited concerned staff and citizens to join this task force. We will communicate soon about meeting dates and times."

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