Idaho school district considers hiring armed guards

Idaho school district considers hiring armed guards
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A North Idaho school district is considering hiring armed guards and equipping teachers with wasp spray to help keep schools safe.

Lakeland Joint School District Assistant Superintendent Lisa Sexton said school leaders are developing different ways to prevent a school shooting at the 11 schools in the district spanning from Rathdrum, to Athol. Among the approaches include hiring armed guards, arming teachers with non-lethal weapons like wasp spray, and enhancing mental health services at school.

“We talked about the potential for hiring some former law enforcement, former military people to be actually armed guards in our buildings, to have one in every building,” Sexton said. “If we are going to hire someone that’s going to carry a gun, we’d rather have that be somebody who is highly trained, whose job is solely protection, who can train with our local law enforcement.”

Sexton went on to say that arming teachers isn’t the answer.

“When we hire teachers, we hire teachers to teach,” Sexton said.

Courtney Coy’s daughter at John Brown Elementary School doesn’t want to see her first grade teacher packing a pistol either.

“I asked my daughter this morning, what she thought, how she would feel about teachers carrying guns. Do you think they should? She said no,” Coy said. “I hope it’s not necessary.”

But the Lakeland Joint School District is considering arming teachers with non-lethal weapons, following state laws.

“We can’t have pepper spray, but we can have wasp spray and if you can get it in their eyes, they can’t see and you incapacitate them,” Sexton said.

The district has already implemented other security protocols, including an entry system that uses video cameras for office staff to check someone’s identity before letting them inside. This summer schools will also be equipped with flashing beacons in areas where it may be hard to hear an emergency drill, like outside or in a shop class.

Sexton said their primary concern remains safety, which will also be achieved through mental health resources. She noted that the district is already forming a partnership to provide more and better access to mental health care students need.

“We’re really looking at how do we bring this community together and embrace our kids ands tart to recognize when they are hurting so that we can intervene, because the kids who are committing these crimes at schools are disenfranchised,” Sexton said.

Sexton said she and Supt. Dr. Becky Meyer will form their safety suggestions and present them to the board by the end of this school year.