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Alabama plan to arm school principals draws mixed reaction

MGN Online

A plan by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to let principals and other administrators store weapons on campus so they can respond to shootings drew mixed reactions Thursday, with an education group expressing support and the NAACP calling it "the absolute worst idea."

Posted: May 31, 2018 3:29 PM

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A plan by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to let principals and other administrators store weapons on campus so they can respond to shootings drew mixed reactions Thursday, with an education group expressing support and the NAACP calling it "the absolute worst idea."

Ivey's "School Sentry Program" would allow administrators in schools that do not have a law enforcement officer on campus to access a weapon kept in a fingerprint-controlled safe.

Principals or other administrators who pass required testing, qualify as sheriff's deputies and have weapons permits would receive specially marked, bullet-proof vests to wear during a school shooting so police wouldn't mistake them for a killer.

Ivey's office said the program is voluntary and school systems can decide whether to participate, and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency will oversee training.

The Alabama Association of School Boards said that while having trained school resource officers is the "optimal first line of defense" and arming school personnel isn't a long-term solution, it recognizes Ivey's desire to move quickly to protect children.

"The Alabama Sentry program appears to be a reasonable, interim solution with some sensible safeguards until the legislature can address this issue," Sally Smith, executive director of the association, said in the statement.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was sharply critical of the move.

"This is the absolute worst idea imposed on students," said a statement by Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama NAACP. "Since the Columbine school massacre in 1999, more than 215,000 students have been exposed to gun violence in schools. The answer to stop gun violence is not to bring in more guns."

It's wasn't immediately clear how many of Alabama's 1,473 public schools lack school resource officers and would therefore be eligible to arm administrators.

A spokesman for the Alabama Department of Education, Michael Sibley, said a recent survey of superintendents turned up 250 total officers in local school districts. Not all systems responded, and the state was trying to determine exactly how many schools don't have officers, said Sibley.

The National Association of School Resource Officers, which provides training to school-based law enforcement officers, has said it opposes arming teachers, but other states and local systems are trying it.

At least one local school district near Dayton, Ohio, has installed gun safes in schools so workers can get to weapons if a shooting occurs, and two Georgia school districts have approved plans to let select staff members carry guns.

While a proposal to let Alabama teachers carry guns didn't pass in this year's legislative session, a school safety task force recommended putting more officers in schools. Ivey said she supports that, and the "sentry" program will provide protection meanwhile.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 68293

Reported Deaths: 1944
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5656118
DeSoto368031
Harrison253036
Madison244368
Rankin229235
Jackson228843
Jones191659
Forrest182056
Washington168942
Lee147941
Lauderdale141192
Neshoba128692
Lamar122614
Oktibbeha112739
Bolivar111834
Warren109533
Lowndes108538
Panola106214
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Scott100320
Lafayette98317
Copiah95728
Leflore94765
Pike93836
Holmes90049
Grenada84921
Yazoo83312
Lincoln83241
Pontotoc8308
Simpson80330
Monroe80155
Leake79025
Wayne77421
Coahoma77213
Tate73629
Marshall7019
Marion68420
Union64316
Adams62925
Winston62316
Covington62113
George5895
Pearl River55439
Newton54311
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Attala52325
Walthall50120
Chickasaw47019
Noxubee45912
Alcorn4345
Tishomingo4216
Calhoun4209
Prentiss41710
Claiborne40913
Smith40613
Clay39714
Hancock39514
Jasper3889
Itawamba37510
Tippah36713
Tunica3517
Clarke32626
Montgomery3265
Lawrence3228
Yalobusha31510
Humphreys29411
Quitman2701
Carroll26111
Greene25512
Perry2437
Amite2356
Webster23512
Kemper23414
Jefferson Davis2336
Wilkinson21113
Stone2055
Sharkey1995
Jefferson1957
Benton1431
Choctaw1354
Franklin1312
Issaquena262
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 99926

Reported Deaths: 1781
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13258244
Mobile10517207
Montgomery6835149
Madison544734
Tuscaloosa423076
Baldwin365125
Unassigned363064
Shelby330936
Marshall318937
Lee270047
Morgan241118
Etowah216232
DeKalb183013
Calhoun180717
Elmore173138
Walker153964
Houston141912
Russell13872
St. Clair135418
Limestone134913
Dallas133123
Franklin128820
Cullman122712
Colbert120716
Lauderdale118919
Autauga117421
Escambia108717
Talladega104814
Jackson10144
Tallapoosa86579
Chambers84438
Dale83525
Clarke82610
Blount8124
Chilton8097
Butler76736
Coffee7646
Covington73720
Pike7087
Marion58026
Barbour5765
Lowndes57324
Marengo56515
Hale47826
Bullock46611
Winston45711
Perry4454
Washington44312
Bibb4425
Wilcox43210
Monroe4215
Pickens4049
Randolph40310
Conecuh39310
Sumter36418
Lawrence3512
Macon33914
Crenshaw3265
Choctaw28712
Cherokee2758
Henry2643
Clay2635
Geneva2631
Greene25211
Lamar2292
Fayette2125
Cleburne1271
Coosa1033
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