Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

March 27, 2013

Administrators armed in W. Colo. school district

DENVER — As lawmakers across the country debate arming teachers and administrators to prevent another deadly school shooting, one Colorado school district has voted to let its superintendent and a high school principal carry concealed semi-automatic pistols on campus — a move some say sidesteps laws meant to keep schools gun-free.

The seven-member school board in southwestern Colorado’s rural Dolores County voted unanimously in February to allow Ty Gray, principal of Dove Creek High School, and Superintendent Bruce Hankins to double as security officers, who under state law are allowed to carry guns on elementary, middle and high school campuses.

Hankins and Gray — both lifelong hunters — will receive an additional $1 per year for the extra responsibility after completing a concealed-carry course and receiving permits from the county sheriff before they can carry a gun on school grounds.

“We won’t live our lives in fear, but we realize the world we live in today and need to do everything in our power to keep kids safe,” Hankins told The Cortez Journal after the vote.

“If somebody comes into the building making threats or shooting, I’m not going to hide behind my desk. I’d prefer to have more than a chair (as a weapon).”

The superintendent of District RE-2J, which serves about 275 students, declined an Associated Press request to be interviewed by phone or in person, though he did respond to emailed questions.

“In most school shootings, they are over in just a few minutes,” Hankins wrote. “We will have immediate response capability.”

In New Jersey, Passaic Valley High School’s board of education voted unanimously last month to allow the school’s principal, a retired police sergeant, to carry a concealed weapon during the school day.

Before becoming principal, Ray Rotella spent four years as the school’s safety officer and carried a gun.

Rotella said the board proposed the idea for him to carry a concealed weapon. He said he is licensed to carry one in the state of New Jersey. and would have no problem doing so in school.

“It’s a unique situation. I’m not advocating administrators carry weapons,” Rotella said last month. “You don’t just give a gun to someone even with a little training. You’re talking about someone who was in law enforcement. I was a firearms instructor.”

In Colorado’s rural Dolores County, the Feb. 6 school board resolution argued that because of an average police response time of 40 minutes — and a limited budget — “it is necessary to rely upon existing staff to fulfill the function of the needed security personnel.”

Authorities say in the spring of 2009, a 16-year-old student plotted to kill Dove Creek High School’s principal, then ambush the county sheriff, take his weapon and continue shooting. Sheriff’s deputies recovered seven rifles, including .22-caliber weapons, shotguns and an M1 carbine, at the boy’s Dove Creek home, and three more weapons when the teen and a 19-year-old friend were arrested in New Mexico.

Authorities made the arrests after one of the teens told his family about the plot, which was delayed because the school was on spring break. The 19-year-old was not charged, and the district attorney’s office does not release information on cases involving juveniles.

“They had stolen the guns and it just happened that the day they planned we were not in session. So, it is real to our community,” Hankins said.

But some say the school board’s decision is merely a semantic argument that skirts state laws prohibiting guns at schools.

“I think it really does subvert the intention of the law, and I don’t think that is ever a good thing,” said Laura Cutilletta, a senior staff attorney for the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “I think, unfortunately, this would probably make them less safe by introducing a gun into school.”

Cutilletta added that school administrators already are “swamped” by their primary duties and don’t have the experience of a security guard or a police officer.

“They’re not used to being in that type of stressful situation, not the type of stress that a police officer faces,” she said. “The likelihood of causing more death and injury is through the roof. Even police officers have a hard time hitting the target during a stressful situation, so how can we expect a superintendent or principal to do it?”

The school board’s resolution theoretically could allow any employee with an extra-duty security officer contract to bring a gun to school. It came a little more than a week after a Colorado Senate committee rejected a guns-in-schools bill that would have allowed local districts to decide whether their employees could carry concealed weapons on campus.

The decision, strongly backed by the National Rifle Association, is part of a larger debate sparked by the mass shootings in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed several bills into law last week, including requiring background checks for private and online gun sales and banning ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds.

Figures compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures indicate that most states ban guns on campus, unless they are carried by peace officers, security guards or by employees who have written permission from the schools superintendent.

But since the Sandy Hook shooting, lawmakers in almost two dozen states have introduced legislation that would make it easier for school employees or volunteers to carry guns on campus.

South Dakota’s Republican governor, Dennis Daugaard, signed a bill March 8 allowing districts to permit teachers and other personnel to serve as “sentinels” and carry firearms on campus. The law takes effect July 1.

Legislatures in a handful of other states, including Georgia, New Hampshire and Kansas, are working on measures similar to South Dakota’s.

 

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Johnson family files second suit against school system

    Two months after filing a civil suit against Lowndes County Schools, Kendrick Johnson's parents have filed a second suit against the school system which again claims that negligence and bullying led to their son’s death.

    July 29, 2014

  • Bears spotted on Baytree Road

    A pair of bear sightings along Baytree Road could indicate a growing black bear population in Lowndes County.

    July 29, 2014

  • photo.JPG Dump truck suspects apprehended

    LCSO has apprehended both of the suspects believed to be connected with the theft of a dump truck in Macon on Monday.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dollar Tree-Family Do_Rich copy.jpg Dollar Tree buys Family Dollar

    The fight for penny pinchers is intensifying.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Mideast Israe_Rich copy.jpg Gaza war rages despite Hamas, Israel truce pledges

    Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite going back and forth over proposals for a temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday.
    The failure to reach even a brief humanitarian lull in the fighting illustrated the difficulties in securing a more permanent truce as the sides remain far apart on their terms.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ga. woman sentenced in child abuse case

    The mother of a 1-year-old boy who was hospitalized with a fractured skull in 2012 has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

    July 29, 2014

  • AP81072904918 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, July 29, the 210th day of 2014. There are 155 days left in the year.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • United Way presents fundraising prom

    Save the date — and make sure to find one — for The Prom, a retro-celebration to benefit the Greater Valdosta United Way.

    July 29, 2014

  • Times hosts blood drive

    The Valdosta Daily Times will participate in a blood drive, 12:30-5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, with the American Red Cross Bloodmobile visiting The Times’ 201 N. Troup St. parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • Free health fair planned for Quitman on Aug. 9

    A free health fair hosted by the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-and-Thomas Counties, Inc. and sponsored by Archbold Hospital will take place Aug. 9  from 8 a.m.-noon. The second annual 100 B-G-T Health Fair will be located at the Courtland Avenue Church of Christ in Quitman. All Valdosta-Lowndes County residents are welcome to attend.

    July 29, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results