MOUNT VERNON — A proposal by the Mount Vernon-Enola School Board that would allow administrators in the school district to be armed will move through a couple more hoops before a final decision is made.
A survey for parents of students at the school district will be sent out soon asking them about their feelings about the proposal, which was brought to the school board by Faulkner County Sheriff Andy Shock earlier this year. Shock spoke to several school districts about the possibility of having its administrators armed.
Superintendent Larry Walters said that the surveys would be received in time for the October school board meeting, and the board may at that time choose to hold a public meeting to explore the issue further.
Some parents have expressed disapproval of the proposal, and the survey will allow them to give their thoughts to the board before a decision is made.
"We have added a line that designates other school district personnel, something that was not in Sheriff Shock's initial proposal," Walters said. "In looking at the matter, there may be times where all three administrators are unavilable to be at the school, and this would allow someone else here who is trained."
Board member James Keathley said he the addition of "other designated school district personnel" was a good idea because he was not sure if all administrators would want to be armed.
Shock was present at the meeting but did not address the board.
In his earlier presentation, Shock said he was simply trying to give school districts an option.
“We want to start the conversation,” Shock told reporters after addressing the board. “We want to see if the community, as a whole, feels this is the way to go, and if it is, I’m going to help them do it.”
Walters said that he was interested to hear the feedback of parents and others in the community.
“I want that feedback,” he said. “You want the people to feel good about the decisions you make and to feel comfortable that they’re sending their children to a safe place.”
A proposal by the Clarksville School District in which more than 20 members of the staff, including teachers, received training to carry handguns was blocked by a state regulatory panel. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel also released an opinion in August, which stated his doubts upon the legality of Clarksville’s plan, which centered around the school district being recognized as a private firm to be able to arm administrators, teachers and other staff.
Parents should receive the survey in the next few days with a self-addressed stamped envelope, and a date to return the survey will be noted.