Panel says no to arming Oregon teachers, staff

EAGLE POINT, Ore. — An advisory panel has advised a Southern Oregon school board against arming teachers.

The Eagle Point board set up the committee last summer when Board Chairman Scott Grissom proposed the idea to protect students from possible violence.

The district would provide training, pay and insurance for approved employees to carry arms during school hours, at events and at board meetings.

The Medford Mail Tribune reports the 20-member panel of citizens was overwhelmingly against that idea.

But the members split on allowing teachers who have concealed carry permits to bring their weapons to school. School policy now prohibits that.

Grissom said he was “a bit disappointed” at the committee’s advice. He said he hopes to persuade others on the five-member school board to at least remove the prohibition against carrying arms.

David Sweem, a teacher at Shady Cove Middle School, said there’s no police force in Shady Cove and asked the board to remove the block on his Second Amendment rights so that he has the “possibility to make a difference.”

“It’s not that I would be carrying all the time, but I may have (my gun) in my vehicle on campus,” he said.

About 85 percent of Oregon school districts don’t have policies dictating whether staff members can bring their weapons on campus if they have concealed handgun licenses. The issue arose in recent years when the Medford schools wouldn’t allow a teacher to come to school armed, and an appeals court ruled against her.

The committee recommended training for all staff members this summer on emergency procedures in attacks, establishing a single point of entry at every building by fall, installing buzzed entry systems and silent panic alarms at every school, and improving in-office security measures.

The district has invested about $153,000 in improving security and has earmarked about $200,000 more to carry out the committee’s recommendation, said Scott Whitman, the district’s information and operations manager.

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