Iowa City principals speak about arming teachers

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Katina Zentz

Iowa City West High School is seen on Feb. 19, 2018.

High-school principals in the Iowa City area disagree with President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers with guns as a response to the shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead.

Trump proposed the idea to train teachers so they could conceal-carry and, in turn, defend themselves and the school in the instance of an armed shooter. He doubled down on this proposal and tweeted that these teachers must be “firearms adept and have annual training” and then added that they would receive some kind of bonus.

RELATED: Parkland shooting survivors speak out, demand change on social media

Principal Glenn Plummer of Regina High said the discussion of guns in schools, in all aspects, is something that has been on his mind since he became an administrator.

He wants his teachers to focus on education, he said, and in a high-pressure situation, he wouldn’t want his teachers liable for weapons.

“There’s no way a teacher would be allowed to have a gun unless they have a lot of training,” Plummer said. “Even police officers are liable under a high-stress time to not have perfect shots, so I would want somebody where it would be their job.”

Principal John Bacon of City High said budgeting is one of the big questions raised in the discussion.

“We struggle as it is to have adequate funding; we are getting what I think is an unsatisfactory amount,” he said.

Bacon said teachers should not be asked to do more with less, noting that he has been able to learn a lot about what his school needs from the students.

City High senior Stella Lindaman said that placing guns in schools would make her feel more unsafe.

“My biggest fear is that a teacher wouldn’t have the right judgment and make a mistake,” she said.

Lindaman said that at City High, the students organized a gathering in which they could call or write letters to state politicians in response to recent gun violence. Students also had the opportunity to register to vote, she said, and 22 students were able to do that.

RELATED: Iowa City students & community respond to Parkland mass shooting

She is proud to be a part of a generation that’s making an effort to make their voices heard, sparked by the high-school students who survived the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland.

“We are the voice, we are the new generation, and we can vote out all these horrible people who refuse to keep kids safe,” Lindaman said.

Principal Scott Kibby of North Liberty’s Liberty High wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that he is against arming teachers with guns. In the situation of a shooter, he wrote, police would not be able to differentiate between a person trying to do harm and an armed teacher, because teachers are not uniformed, as most police officers are.

Kibby noted that Liberty teachers go through a training program called, Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate, which is carried out with the North Liberty and Coralville Police Departments.

Plummer and Bacon also reported that their schools use the alert-lockdown program to train their teachers. With the program, schools can learn techniques to counter an intruder, and Plummer said Liberty teachers learned that barricading the doors isn’t always the best method.

He described the training program as a preparedness or preventative method in the case of an armed intruder.

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