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Several school districts in Ohio have armed staff and teachers in an effort to prevent school shootings, but some of those districts have not told parents, students and taxpayers about the firearms in their buildings.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said that if one of the victims, a football coach, in last week’s Florida school shooting had been armed “he would have shot and that would have been the end of it.”
The move to arm teachers is growing in Ohio, even if the public has no idea.
In August 2017 some superintendents said they are aware of districts that have armed staff and teachers without making the move public.
“It’s way more prevalent than people realize,” Mad River Schools Superintendent Chad Wyen said. His district trained and armed employees last year. “Sixty-three out of 88 counties in Ohio have a district with a response team.”
While some details — types and locations of weapons and names of trained staff — are undisclosed as part of Mad River’s safety plan, the mere fact that students and parents know guns are in the building is more information than other Ohio districts provide publicly.
“We decided to be transparent,” said Chris Burrow, superintendent of Georgetown Exempted Village Schools in Brown County, east of Cincinnati, in a 2017 interview. “We went to training this summer, and there were districts that did not tell their communities.”
The superintendents did not specify which schools they knew implemented gun training but did not tell the public.
Burrow’s staff follows a path already blazed by Edgewood City Schools in Butler County, which adopted a concealed carry policy in 2013.
Superintendents who have armed their teachers and staff have largely expressed positive results.
“We had others that just had a lot of questions, especially people who are hesitant around guns,” Burrow said. “I did have a few staff members who said, ‘I don’t know if I can work here.’”
“We worked through it,” he said. “They weren’t as adamantly opposed as they were before.”
Four years after bringing guns into Sidney City Schools, Superintendent John Scheu said more than 90 percent of the staff who first volunteered have stayed with the program. He said the district has no issue finding educators willing to bear arms.
“As a matter of fact, we have a waiting list,” Scheu said.