Blanchester schools mull arming teachers

Program would be ‘100 percent voluntary’

By John Hamilton -

BLANCHESTER — A local school district is looking into the idea of allowing teachers to carry firearms in schools.

Blanchester School Board Vice President Kyle Wilson told the News Journal that Monday night’s meeting was their introduction to the possibly of implementing this, and to hear feedback from the public.

“The motivation of this is the main priority of our schools — to protect our students and staff,” said Wilson.

Wilson said he’s heard overwhelming support from the community outside of the meeting.

During the meeting, seven people spoke, with some objecting, some approving, and others on the fence.

According to Wilson, he and Board Member Mike Williams had first discussed the idea around four months ago.

“We had done some extensive investigation work, whether it’d be talking to our attorneys, speaking with our insurance company,” he said. “(Superintendent) Dean Lynch has been a huge help in that regard. I’ve interviewed and talked with school districts that have included this in their safety program.”

The program would be 100 percent voluntary, he advised.

Each volunteer would go through an extensive process to be approved.

“We want to be as thorough as possible,” he said.

To be approved, the volunteer would have to submit a resume; the board would then choose who to interview and thoroughly vet a volunteer through his or her references.

They would then have to obtain a concealed carry license and complete a firearm training course.

The identity of the approved staff members would remain anonymous so students wouldn’t know who has a gun on campus.

“Their identity is kept anonymous and confidential because, obviously, if you would dispel that information you’re putting them at risk,” said Wilson.

The volunteers would also have to provide their own firearm, and keep it on them at all times.

“We feel that would be the best practice. That we know where the firearm is at all times and it would not be accessible to anyone who isn’t approved,” he said.

Many locals voiced their opinions on the topic in the Facebook group Blanchester Wildcats United.

Some losupport it, including local resident Aaron Brewster.

“I feel like any staff that feels they could be of any benefit in the case of a school shooting should be allowed,” said Brewster. “Keep in mind that until you are in a fight for your life or that of others, you never know how you will react.”

Carolou McCarren, a retired teacher and former Wilmington City Schools administrator, voiced her support.

“I used to believe putting up a fence around the playground was not necessary. I have changed my mind over the 40-plus years I have been associated with public schools,” said McCarren. “Times have changed. The world has changed. Our first job is safety for the kids. If permitting a teacher, who had a (concealed carry license) and freely volunteers to carry, I support.”

Others voiced their concerns and objections to the idea.

Annie Stonerook, a multi-handicap K-3 teacher at Blanchester, said she was conflicted.

“I am leaning towards no (at least for myself). I feel like enough responsibility is put on me as it is. I would feel safer with an armed security guard in each building,” said Stonerook.

Retired BHS English teacher Kathleen Kefauver said, “I would not want any of my co-workers armed, nor would I want sometimes troubled adolescents knowing weapons were present in the building. Believe me, they would know! Recipe for tragic disaster.”

Wilson said that no action would take place at the Aug. 20 meeting.
Program would be ‘100 percent voluntary’

By John Hamilton

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574