Your child's history teacher could soon be packing heat. Members in the South Dakota House of Representatives voted 42-27 in favor of House Bill 1087, which would allow school districts to holster up teachers, security staff and volunteers.
“Teachers are here to teach. They're not here to be police officers,” Parker School Superintendent Keith Buckridge said.
The Parker School district doesn't have a School Resource Officer, nor does Buckridge think the district needs one. Parker is the county seat, so law enforcement officers are close by. But even if they weren't, the superintendent says arming his teachers would not be a priority.
“Are they going to be able to, in a moment's notice, to go from teacher to the sentinel if you want to use that terminology? I just don't think a majority will be able to do that,” Buckridge said.
“I know what they're trying to do. They're trying to protect the kids, and I'm 100 percent for protecting our kids,” Turner County Sheriff Byron Nogelmeier said.
Nogelmeier says he doesn't support the latest version of the bill either. If Parker school wanted to arm staff, Nogelmeier would have the final say according to the bill, which says a county sheriff must approve the school district’s plan.
“The liability may end up with us. This is not our employee,” Nogelmeier said. “This is a school employee or a volunteer the school has or a hired security person.”
At minimum, the sheriff says he would like the bill amended to clarify who is responsible for the armed guard. The bill passed by the House Tuesday leaves the choice to arm schools up to each district and is designed partially for schools in remote corners of South Dakota.
“That person is a trained educator. He's not a trained law enforcement officer,” Nogelmeier said.
“If they really want to have a weapon in school, to me, the only way to do that would be to provide money for trained officers that are trained as their job to do this,” Buckridge said.
The bill now moves on to a Senate committee for review.