Society

South Dakota School District Considers Arming Employees

| by Sean Kelly

A South Dakota school district is considering arming staff members with guns.

The Tri-Valley School Board passed a sentinel policy that could be put into effect in April, three years after South Dakota lawmakers passed legislation that allowed school employees to carry firearms. Tri-Valley would be the first district to act on the law.

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The policy stated that any employee who wished to become a school sentinel member would need to apply. The application would then need to be approved by the district, and the employee would undergo a psychological evaluation as well as law enforcement training.

The policy also stated that employees who were sentinels wouldn't be known to the public.

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"I'm a parent of a Tri-Valley student," Superintendent Mike Lodmel said, KELO reported. "I would understand wanting to know whether or not my son's teacher has access to a firearm. But at the same point and time we really feel the benefit for this program is not letting people know that and I think parents and community members will certainly understand that."

The purpose of the policy would be to provide backup for the school's resource officer.

"This was not a knee-jerk reaction to any recent events in our area or across the country. We've been considering it for a while, ever since the law was enacted," School Board Chairman Leslie Johnson said. The school district began researching the idea of implanting a sentinel policy earlier this year.

"I will be sending out a parent letter to everybody via an email. I plan on meeting the staff tomorrow morning, we have a staff meeting for that telling them everything that's going on through there. I think we have really went above and beyond to try and inform everybody of not only the decision but why," Lodmel said.

In February 2015, South Dakota lawmakers voted on a plan to let students carry firearms on college campuses throughout the state, reports the Argus Leader.

Sources: KELO Argus Leader / Photo credit: Michael Saechang/Flickr