The Okay, Oklahoma Public School district announced its “Armed School Employees” policy with signage posted in front of the school reading: “Attention – Please be aware that certain staff members at Okay Public Schools can be legally armed and may use whatever force is necessary to protect our students.”
“The signs are more or less a deterrent,” said superintendent Charles McMahan in this story from muskoegeephoenix.com. “We don’t want to be a soft target.”
McMahan said his administration looks for ways to keep students safe and secure, the story notes, since the Okay Police Department was disbanded in December 2014 and the town is now handled by the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Department.
Many students and parents only learned of the policy when the signs were placed.
The school’s principal Mark Hayes said in the story that the school’s policy is designed to fill the security where it was vacated by local law enforcement.
“There have been numerous shootings in the country, and we want to keep out students safe,” Hayes said in the story. “These are our kids.”
The story says one Okay employee is currently approved to carry. For any other employees to carry, they must qualify with a Council on Law Enforcement Education Training certification or license, possess an Oklahoma Self Defense Act License, and be CLEET qualified with the firearm.
Once an employee has completed the qualifications, they may submit themselves to the OPS Board of Education for approval before they are allowed to carry in school. The school is the only one in the area with an armed-employee policy.
The school is not alone in its desire to protect students with armed employees. As we reported earlier, a bill in the South Carolina legislature would allow designated individuals to carry firearms, and a plan for trained staff to have access to secured guns is gaining acceptance at a school in Idaho.