The Douglas County School Board firmly rejected a request from the chair of the Douglas County GOP to allow teachers to carry firearms in schools.
Steve Peck, the Douglas County GOP chair and a former school board member, sent a letter on March 27 in the aftermath of the Nashville shooting, asking the district to let trained staff be armed at schools without school resource officers. Peck did not respond to an interview request from Colorado Community Media.
“We cannot afford to wait any longer or play political games with the lives of our nearly 63,000 students in the district, especially elementary and rural schools who have no SROs and are sitting today without any armed security,” Peck wrote in the letter.
Board members responded to the letter during the March 28 meeting by reiterating the district has no plans to allow staff to be armed in schools with the exception of school resource officers, or SRO, who are trained law enforcement. The district currently has an SRO at every middle and high school.
Board President Mike Peterson said a staff member with a concealed carry permit would not rise to the standard of training the district has for school resource officers, so he would not support them being armed in schools.
“I’ve had three criteria for our folks who are armed in schools,” Peterson said. “The first one is that they are competent, trained to a ridiculously high standard. Two, that they are proficient, so they maintain that competency and skill for not just physical, but mental decision making. And third, that they are an integrated part of our planning and response.”
Board member Elizabeth Hanson said the letter created unnecessary chaos in the community because the elected panel has no intentions of arming teachers, which she adamantly opposes.
“I want to call it what it is, it was a political stunt, it was reckless, and I think it was very purposefully sent to create division,” Hanson said.
A statement from Lucy Squire, a third-grade teacher and the president of the local teachers’ union, Douglas County Federation, noted that allowing teachers to be armed would potentially pit them against their students.
“We know that often the perpetrator in a school shooting is a current or former student," Squire said. "Why would the Douglas County GOP want us to be confronted with the possibility of having to shoot our own current or former students?"
Though the board doesn’t support arming teachers, it is looking at ways to fund 10 more school resource officers, which would help fill coverage gaps. The district estimates it would cost $5-6 million.
One possibility is that the district asks voters for the money as part of a mill levy override.
“We all respect our SROs,” Hanson said. “We mutually understand that what they bring to our district is absolutely invaluable and we want to continue to elevate that relationship and nothing else.”