Due to a new Missouri law, teachers could be taking on a new responsibility.
Senate Bill 656 allows school districts to appoint staff members in the district to carry a concealed weapon for protection in case of an emergency. Only members of the district's Board of Education will know the names of these select individuals. The district must then notify the director of the department of Public Safety who these individuals are.
This law is not a required to be implemented in each district. It is strictly a district by district decision.
Since this law is not required for all districts, the Missouri School Boards Association is working to provide districts with alternative options. Associate Executive Director Kelli Hopkins says the association has encouraged districts to seek professional law enforcement instead of arming teachers.
"MSBA has been advising districts rather than arming teachers or administrators, they should look into the idea of hiring professionals and security or policing and have those individuals be the ones with the weapons," Hopkins said.
There are only two districts in southeast Missouri that have implemented the law. Paul Fennewald, Advisor and Director of the Missouri Center of Education Safety, says that for some districts the police response time is too slow to respond to the threat. In these cases, he says that implementing the bill would increase district security.