As schools across the country grapple with how to prepare for the next active shooter, one school district in Colorado has taken armed teachers off the table.
Local media reports that the Douglas County School District has asked one of its character schools to leave the district because it allows teachers to be trained and armed on school grounds. If the school and the district can’t come to an exit agreement, the district has threatened to close the school.
“We will fight tooth and nail if any school, whether it is a neighborhood school or a charter school, that decides to arm its teachers,” said school board superintendent Dr. Thomas Tucker at a hearing. “If it’s a charter school, we are going to ask that they leave the Douglas County School District.”
The school, Ascent Classical Academy, is the only school in the district to implement a program that allows teachers to be armed. They required teachers to possess a concealed carry license, volunteer to participate, pass an assessment, and complete a course from the Ohio-based FASTER Saves Lives training program.
“It’s a lot of training that our staff go through,” Derec Shuler, Ascent’s executive director, told local media.
We spoke with FASTER Saves Lives director Joe Eaton last year, and he explained that the 26-hour course requires a higher standard of firearm proficiency than some police departments. FASTER students also receive training on how to move safely from an area of danger, how to move people to an area of safety, and how to deal with large chaotic crowds. They receive a large block of trauma casualty care as well.
Shuler says parents overwhelmingly support the program.
“It makes me feel confident, dropping off my kids at school and being able to walk away and know that somebody is there that’s trained, well trained,” mother Rachel Graham told local media.
As with many small schools, Ascent couldn’t afford to hire a full-time resource officer.
“It’s really a question of cost. These are just really not options that are affordable to us as a smaller school,” Shuler said.
Shuler’s school isn’t the only Colorado charter school taking advantage of FASTER training.
Sheena Mc Ouat wants to open a charter school just north of Denver, and she participated in a recent FASTER course in Adams County, Colorado.
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“Not being prepared is not an option,” she told Fox 31. “I’ve been in education for 19 years and when I sat down to develop this school, I had to think about our safety plan, and the fact that there could be a shooter, there was no other option than to be prepared in multiple ways including to stop the threat.”
While charter and private schools often have the flexibility and independence to develop armed teacher programs, many public school districts have been more hesitant. One of Eaton’s greatest frustrations are school administrators who refuse to treat violence like any other health emergency.
“The thing that aggravates me talking to schools is that it seems that violence is the only emergency that they’re comfortable saying they’ll wait on outside help,” he told GunsAmerica.
“I tell them, if you’ve got a kid that falls in a swimming pool and drowns, you don’t simply call 911 and wait for the ambulance to show up. You jump in the pool, you pull the kid out, you start CPR, and then when the professionals get there you have a patient to transfer to them instead of a victim. Violence has to be the same exact way.”