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State Lawmakers Go In Search Of School Safety Answers

AP Photo/Robert Ray
Mourners attend a vigil for the victims of a fatal shooting at Marshall County High School on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, at Mike Miller County Park in Benton, Ky.

A state school safety working group gathered testimony this week with an eye toward drafting a policy recommendations for the General Assembly. So far, the most controversial remedy – arming teachers – has met mostly with skepticism from lawmakers and panelists.  

Kentucky Center for School Safety Director Jon Akers told lawmakers Monday that schools in the commonwealth received at least 294 threats since the January shooting that took the lives of two students and injured more than a dozen at Marshall County High School. In the aftermath of the tragedy, school boards face a menu of posssible responses, he said.

"These come in to categories such as metal detecters, bag checks, more law enforcement at the schools, arming personnel," Akers informed the group. "School safety is a comprehensive issue. It's going to take a lot more than just these components right here to make schools safer."

The prospect of guns in the classroom gave some participants pause. High school teacher Jody Glass told the panel that, while she backs the Second Amendment, she doesn’t believe guns belong in the hands of teachers.

"I do not believe teachers should have guns in the classroom at all," she said. "I think that you're adding another component to our education and to our roles in these children's lives that is a barrier, becomes a barrier for our sole purpose."

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports state Rep. John Carney, who co-chairs both the safety working group and the legislature’s Interim Joint Committee on Education, is also doubtful educators could be equipped with the proper training.

Gov. Matt Bevin told a radio station earlier this year that the state should consider allowing “highly and specifically trained” teachers to carry firearms.  

The working group is set to deliver suggestions for making the state’s schools safer when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

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