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Should teachers be armed with guns?

Cary Ashby • Mar 15, 2018 at 4:00 AM

The discussion about arming teachers has come to Norwalk City Schools.

“I don’t think you can have enough safety,” said Kevin Kaltenbach, a district conservationist whose wife, Heather, teaches fourth grade at League Elementary.

“I’m not talking about the wild, wild West in (school) hallways,” added Kaltenbach, who shared information he had researched with the school board Tuesday. 

He envisions armed teachers being a voluntary situation.

Noting that he had talked to five school districts in Ohio, Kaltenbach said the interested teachers and staff members would be required to have a carry-conceal permit, take a Buckeye Firearms training course, which focuses on the FASTER (faculty/administrator safety training and emergency response) method and there would be a requirement of hours spent at a shooting range. Similar FASTER training is available in Medina.  

Also, Kaltenbach said district superintendents told him they would maintain the same lockdown procedures in the event of an active shooting situation, but teachers would have access to a Lock Box that holds a gun accessible only by their fingerprint ID.

“The only person who can open it is the teacher who has that desk,” he added. “There’s a lot of training that goes in behind this.”

Kaltenbach has spoken to Jeremy Norris, who owns Norris Protective Services, who has offered to train teachers.

“He said he would do this at no cost to the staff of Norwalk,” Kaltenbach said.

Kaltenbach said there should be a safety committee that makes all the decisions related to arming teachers, but safety plans wouldn’t be a public record. He added he was told that one school committee requires physiological evaluations which needs to be done before allowing any staff member to carry a gun.

Kathy Cring, who teaches at League, said arming teachers who volunteer for that responsibility and have a required carry-conceal permit could prevent a lot of deaths.

Being on the third floor of the school, she said waiting in a classroom would be the equivalent of being “sitting ducks” if a shooter entered the building. Cring added it would be great to have the opportunity to protect students if it came to that.

Norwalk High School administrative assistant Sharon Linder said one of her biggest concerns with arming teachers is an accidental shooting. While she noted that her husband Steve, a school board member, has a conceal-carry permit and she’s “all for guns,” she said “I don’t think the school setting is the right situation.”

Kaltenbach started his short presentation to the board by saying 18 states, including Ohio, “have armed staff to protect our children.”

Prior to the Chardon school shooting in late February 2012, he said he used to think that such tragedies couldn’t happen anywhere close to Norwalk. Chardon is in Geauga County. By arming teachers, Kaltenbach said they could “throw bullets” at a shooter inside a school instead of just arming themselves with erasers.

“That district is smaller than this one,” he added. “They lost three of their students.” 

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