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‘You’re not going to harm our kids:’ School leaders defend arming teachers

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NEWCOMERSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Some school districts are choosing to arm their teachers as part of their emergency response plan for active shooters.

Frank Hall, the football coach who chased a gunman out of Chardon High School six years ago, is working to make schools across the country safer with his Coach Hall Foundation. He thinks the answer is putting a school resource officer in every Ohio school.

“We need SROs even more in rural schools, not just to arm a teacher that went to a weekend class. That’s not what we want in our schools. We want the best for our children,” Hall said.MORE: Chardon administrators talk guns

But those who want teachers armed say time is of the essence.

Jeff Staggs is the superintendent of Newcomerstown Schools in Tuscarawas County, where some of his staff carry guns.

“Someone tries to break into your home, you’re going to protect your children. That’s what we do here,” he said.

Staggs is going through the last hour of his last day of training at “Faster Saves Lives.”

After Sandy Hook, some of his employees went through the whole program — learning how to shoot, when to use force and how to identify a threat.MORE: Which local school districts allow teachers to carry guns?

“Someone can walk in, wipe out an entire classroom in 40 seconds. It’s time. It’s eliminating the threat when we’re right there,” Staggs said.

Program director Joe Eaton walked through what a teacher would have to do in order to qualify. Over the course of three days, teachers learn how to fire from different distances, how to react in high-stress situations and how to hold onto their gun.

Their big message? It all comes down to time.

“If you have a kid that falls in a swimming pool and drowns, you don’t just call 911 and stand around and wait. You jump in the pool, you grab the kid, you pull them out and you pray someone knows CPR so you have a live patient when the professional gets there,” Eaton said.

He said a police officer has to pass this training at an 80 percent pass/fail rate. A teacher has to score at least 93 percent.

Eaton recommends teachers who do carry train several times a year. At this point, it’s up to the districts to decide just how often they have to requalify.

“What we know is they are more ready than they were before,” Eaton said.

Ready, they say, with one more tool in a situation where time is everything.

“Did we go into education to do this? No, we didn’t, but are we going to protect our children? One-hundred percent,” Staggs said. “You’re not going to harm our kids without us intervening and I want to give my staff a chance to live through that.”

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