A school district voted unanimously to become the first Virginia county to permit armed teachers, but Virginia government officials are not pleased.
The Lee County School Board decided earlier in July to arm teachers in its 11-school, 3,200-student school district, but faces backlash from Virginia’s Department of Education and attorney general, according to The Washington Post Wednesday.
“[There are] one or two people out in the community that are not for it, and I think it’s probably from an anti-gun standpoint, really,” Lee County School Board member Rob Hines said. “But people can have concerns about it. We have concerns about it. We just think that, financially, it’s our best option and we have to do something.”
The board believes 50 out of Lee County’s 700 school employees will be responsible for concealed weapons in September after going through psychological evaluations, background checks, and summer training. Virginia state law forbids the presence of firearms on school property, but the Lee County School Board will attempt to classify the armed employees as “conservators of the peace” to gain exemption.
“We recently found out about this scheme, and we’re looking into it,” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s spokesman, Michael Kelly, told the Post. “It’s troubling to learn that people are putting so much time and effort into getting around the law and getting more guns into schools when the focus should clearly be on creating a safe, welcoming learning environment.”
Kelly said that Virginia “clearly prohibits guns in schools,” barring a few small exceptions.
“Lee County did not approach the department for guidance or technical assistance before the local school board took this action,” Virginia Department of Education spokesman Charles Pyle said. His department is examining the school district’s decision in light of “relevant statutes.”
Fourteen states have armed teachers and 16 more states give school boards discretion over arming teachers as of March, according to VICE News. Virginia is not listed as one of those states.
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