LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has issued a legal opinion that will prevent school districts from arming teachers and school administrators this fall.
The decision likely blocks Clarksville School District’s plan to arm more than 20 district employees with concealed 9mm handguns for the upcoming school year.
In preparation for the program, more than 20 Clarksville administrators and staff members completed 53 hours of training through the Nighthawk Custom Training Academy, a private training facility in northwest Arkansas.
The training included role playing of school shootings using air soft pellet guns.
Participants were to be given a one-time stipend of $1,100 to purchase a handgun and holster. The district expected to pay about $50,000 for ammunition and training.
“The plan we’ve been given in the past is ‘Well, lock your doors, turn off your lights and hope for the best,’” Clarksville Superintendent David Hopkins told the Associated Press. But as deadly incidents continued to happen in schools, he explained, the district decided, “That’s not a plan.”
The district was trying to use a little known state law that was implemented to allow the arming of private guards working for security agencies, according to USA Today.
But it looks as if the district’s plan has been shot down before it could be implemented.
“Simply put, the code in my opinion does not authorize either licensing a school district as a guard company or classifying it as a private business authorized to employ its own teachers as armed guards,” AG McDaniel wrote.
Hopkins said he discussed the opinion with McDaniel and the district will comply with his ruling.
“Obviously we’re going to comply with the law. We’re not going to break the law,” Hopkins told the AP. “We wanted to provide the training and give the sense of a secure place for our parents and students. I tell you, this has really thrown a monkey wrench into it.”
Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the Arkansas State Police, said pending applications by two or three other school districts seeking similar licenses have been put on hold, reports the AP.
There doesn’t appear to be any help on the way from the state legislature.
In February, a House panel rejected a bill which would have allowed employees to carry weapons on school property once they completed a 40-hour training session with the state.
By Trevor TenBrink at EAGnews.org
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