I-Team: Several administrators express interest in lethal force program to protect students

This school year many Alabama administrators will have a first of its kind decision to make; Whether they want to take part in a program that would allow them to have a gun at school and use lethal force to protect students.

Posted: Aug 1, 2018 12:01 PM
Updated: Oct 15, 2018 2:36 PM

It is the week before school begins for Jackson County, Alabama schools and special education teacher Melanie Geiger is taking part in a leadership academy. She is in a room full of principals, assistant principals and teachers from 17 schools in the Jackson County School District. Geiger told WAAY 31 as educators prepare for the classroom this year, there is another big topic of conversation, keeping guns on campus to protect students..

"We've talked about this at school a lot with other teachers when this came up, and we discussed among ourselves who would feel comfortable, who would not feel comfortable," said Geiger.

Jackson County School Superintendent, Kevin Dukes told WAAY 31 that 11 of his 17 administrators expressed interest in going through the Alabama Sentry Program. It allows certified school administrators to use lethal force to defend students, in the case of an active shooter situation. Governor Kay Ivey didn't go through lawmakers and issued the executive order in May. It lets schools without full-time school resource officers keep a gun on property and gives trained administrators access to the weapon, but only administrators-- not teachers.

"It puts teachers in a bad position because they got into this business for the love of students and to teach students, and who would have thought we would be having a conversation about guns in schools to protect our students? It's crazy," said Superintendent Dukes.

Superintendent Dukes told WAAY 31 that arming anyone is a last resort and right now the district is exploring other measures. That includes putting cameras in the classroom so if an active shooter entered a school, the sheriff's department would have a live feed of what is going on. Geiger said she hopes the district comes up more solutions to avoid guns on campus.

"I have a gun, I have a gun permit. I do not feel comfortable carrying a gun in the school system, for me as an educator when I went through school that is not what I was there to do," said Geiger.

Superintendent Dukes says if the school board approves the measure and his administrators go through the training, he will be right there with them and learn to use lethal force in a worst case scenario.

"If we do choose that route, to go through the Sentry Program, then absolutely, I will go through the program with everybody else," said Superintendent Dukes.

School boards still have to vote on whether they want to implement the program, and school administrators who volunteer will have to go through extensive training and a mental evaluation.

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