SHELBY COUNTY, Ind. — Some staff members at Shelby Eastern Schools will have access to guns in the school buildings as part of a new school safety plan.
Last week, the district rolled out new safety measures which includes fortifying buildings, additional funding for school resource officers, panic buttons for teachers and what leaders are calling an “armed staff response team.”
The changes were, in part, prompted by recent mass shootings across the United States.
“When you see a shooting like Uvalde, or you see a shooting like at the Greenwood Mall not too long ago, it makes you think about how you can improve,” Superintendent Todd Hitchcock said.
Hitchcock said it’s not a concealed carry program. Staff who volunteer will go through initial training and must be approved by the district. There will also be additional training each quarter and, the district stresses, it’s a last resort.
“The guns or the weapons will be stored in safes in different locations that we won’t be sharing publicly for obvious reasons,” Hitchcock said. “We hope to never use it but we want to have it in place in case it does.”
Hitchcock said one of the main reasons for the program is that the school buildings are in rural areas where it would take longer for police to respond.
While some expressed some reservations about the program online, everyone who spoke to FOX59 today said they supported the plan.
“I think that it’s awesome. I think a lot of things probably wouldn’t happen if the staff could be armed,” parent Rachel Seymour said. “Whatever we can do to maybe prevent these things I’m all for it.”
Ralph Henderson, who has grandkids in the district, said he likes the plan as long as everyone gets the proper training.
“You never know what’s happening,” Henderson said. “It used to be in a small town you didn’t have to worry about it, but now you worry about everything.”
The district said it does have one school resources officer on each campus every day. However, some think having extra firepower if something were to happen wouldn’t hurt.
“Yeah we have one cop that’s always at the school but then that’s only one gun that we have there that can stop someone and they have to be in the right area,” Stephen Hampton said. “But if there’s more spread out throughout the school then I mean it’s easier.”
The district is not the first in the state to implement a program like this, but it is one of the few. Jay County schools put in place a similar program several years ago.
The Shelby Eastern School board released the following statement to FOX59:
“As a school board, our most important task is to ensure we provide a safe learning environment for students and staff. As threats against schools and the safety of our children continue to evolve, our approach to keeping students safe must also evolve. In response to this ever-changing landscape, our board has invested a significant effort in examining our existing response capabilities with the guidance and advice of several qualified experts in school security.”-Shelby Eastern School Board
You can read the full plan below.