S-D considers staff conceal carry proposal

The Sunman Dearborn School Corporation board will discuss a proposed policy that would allow certain employees to have a concealed carry weapon at school.

The proposal will be discussed at the school board meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 12, in the East Central High School library. The public will have an opportunity to discuss the proposed policy during the public comment section of the meeting.

The concealed-carry gun policy is part of a larger school safety policy the board has been discussing, according to Superintendent Andrew Jackson.

“The board has been meeting in executive session over the last two or three months to discuss school safety, so it was really a joint effort amongst the entire school board and myself and our attorney,” said Jackson

“We are also working with our insurance carrier as well to see what they would expect in a policy like this so we would have proper liability insurance.”

If SDSC enacts the gun policy, it would be only the third corporation in the state to have one. North White School Corporation, in Monon, approved a policy in May 2014, while Jay School Corporation, in Portland, OK’d a gun-carry policy earlier this year.

While Jackson would not give details on the policy because it is still being drafted, he said it would cover a full psychiatric background check; training; type of weapon and ammunition; and the process to apply and get approval and the length of approval and how to reapply.

“It will basically state somewhat ambiguously who is permitted to apply to have a weapon on campus under concealed carry,” he said.

“The one North White did, they specifically say administrators and board members, or something to that effect. We are not going to be that clear in ours because we feel like if it is more ambiguous for the public, that’s actually a better way to handle it.”

According to the North White schools administration policy, anyone there who wants to carry a weapon must pass a psychiatric evaluation and be subject to future evaluation at the request of the board. The weapon must be semi-automatic, not have a chambered round, be carried in a level 2 or level 3 holster, carried on the person at all times and concealed from sight and may not be stored in the building.

The North White policy applies only to “current North White administration, North White building level administrators, and North White school board members. This policy allows the above mentioned positions to carry a concealed weapon on North White School Corporation property (including inside of all buildings) and at all North White School Corporation functions except those held on other school corporation properties.”

The Jay School Corporation policy, according to the WFYI-FM website, gives “employees access to firearms stored in a gun safe in the event of a shooting. Administrators, teachers and support staff who volunteer will have to be vetted by the superintendent, sheriff and Portland police chief. They will also undergo a psychological evaluation and 26 hours of training before having access to the guns.”

Jackson said Sunman Dearborn schools will have to change insurance carriers because its current company, Wright Insurance, will not cover the gun policy. He said the schools could change to Liberty Mutual Insurance.

“That’s part of the reason why we are still working on details of the policy this week to make sure it fits (Liberty Mutual) criteria to be considered,” he said. “Then they would have to give us a cost of what it would cost and we would have to switch insurance carriers.”

But the important part of this policy is for people to give their opinions at the meeting.

“People are very quick with this society to make comments and express concerns on social media and places like that and neighborhoods and meetings,” said Jackson.

“I would just really encourage parents to come to the meeting to be heard. The board wants to hear them and talking about it at the soccer game is not going to help them one bit. The board is not at the soccer game. We don’t know what they are saying at the soccer game, and we are not following everyone’s social media.”

Only seven people spoke at an open forum on the school safety on April 9, with not many more parents in attendance.

“If you have strong opinions and you don’t come to the meeting, the board may rightly say you’ve had your chance. So (corporation residents) really need to come to this,” he said.

The policy will have its first reading July 12. If passed, the second reading would be at the board meeting on Thursday, Aug. 9.