Administrators in the Kiona-Benton City School District could eventually carry concealed firearms if the school board moves forward with a proposed policy.
The board began discussing the gun policy, which would be modeled off a similar one in the Toppenish School District, at its Monday meeting.
“We’re just considering it because we’re seeing more and more of these things,” said board Vice President Leslie Johnston.
There was sparse comment on the proposed policy from the roughly dozen people attending the meeting, though one administrator spoke in favor of arming staff.
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“If I’m trained and given the opportunity (to carry), then yes,” said Kiona-Benton City High School Principal Clay Henry.
Arming school staff has been one of the responses to improving school safety in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults dead after a gunman broke into the school before shooting and killing himself in December 2012.
In the weeks immediately following the shooting, State Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, along with another Republican state lawmaker proposed legislation to allow teachers to carry firearms while working. Klippert serves as Ki-Be High’s school resource officer and is also a deputy of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.
The Toppenish School Board voted earlier this year to allow school staff to carry firearms while in school, provided they take 16 hours of training, obtain a concealed weapons permit and undergo a background check.
Prosser School Board members last year authorized a security guard to carry a gun while on duty in Prosser High School.
Johnson, Ki-Be board President Tim Cook and member Wayne Elston said there had been informal consideration of a gun policy for a few years, though there’s been no known threat made against Ki-Be schools.
The district has taken other actions to secure schools, such as testing out a new identification system at Kiona-Benton City Elementary School that requires school visitors to scan their driver’s license for a background check before being allowed inside.
More recent threats against schools, including the fatal shooting of four students and wounding of another at a high school in Marysville, Wash., prompted them to seek public input, board members said.
“We’re just starting to look into it,” Cook said.
There is no timetable on when the policy could be put in force if it is eventually approved. The board directed Superintendent Wade Haun to collect information about training requirements, including where staff could take safety classes and how much it would cost.
The information is expected to be made available at the Dec. 15 board meeting.