LITTLE ROCK — The boards of public schools in Arkansas could pay existing school employees extra to provide armed security during school hours in addition to their regular jobs under legislation filed Thursday.
House Bill 1231 by Rep. Homer Lenderman, D-Brookland, would establish a training and evaluation regimen for school employees with permits to carry a concealed handgun to undergo to qualify for the additional security duties.
Lenderman said the measure is intended to enable districts to supplement their existing security staff or to enable districts that cannot afford full-time security to have armed, trained staff to provide it.
"We need to have people on campus that are competent and have quality training, and we need to allow them to carry," said Lenderman, who taught high school agriculture for 30 years.
"We’ve had a lot of people saying we need to do something, and we have. We’ve put in safeguards, security locks. But, especially for our rural schools, we have several minutes before an armed police officer can be there and not all schools have security officers," he said. "This bill allows a school, if they choose, to select certain individuals that they feel are competent to complete these duties."
The employees could be teachers, custodians, bus drivers or others, he said, "but as soon as they hear a certain signal or shots fired, they go into the mode of defending students."
Under the bill, the worker must be licensed to carry a concealed handgun and would be required to complete a 40-hour training course at an accredited law enforcement training academy that teaches fundamental use of firearms, trauma care and defensive tactics.
The employee also must complete an annual accredited eight-hour training course to include on-site tactical drills, school safety drills and firearms qualification on an approved course of fire. The worker would be required to pass a physical and renew the security contract annually.
The employee would be required to undergo standard physical and psychological evaluations for law enforcement personnel and be subject to a background check. The security contract would be voided if the person is convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor involving violence.
Also filed Thursday, Senate Bill 225 by Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, R-Cabot, would exempt the names and address of minors in motor vehicle accident and investigative reports from the state Freedom of Information Act.