Uinta County School District #1 voted late Tuesday evening to put guns in the hands of teachers and staff. The district is the first in Wyoming to act on legislation passed last year to let local school districts decide whether to permit concealed carry in schools.
Uinta #1’s policy allows staff who already have a concealed carry permit to submit an application to the district. Staff will have to undergo a psychological evaluation and no less than 24 hours of initial training before receiving final approval from the school board.
Superintendent Ryan Thomas said the policy will be go in effect on July 1, 2018 and applicants will undergo training this summer to be ready for the 2018-2019 school year. He said given the time crunch the district may accept applications as early as May.
Thomas, who is in favor of the policy, testified to the school board that school safety is more complicated than just arming staff.
“What has to change are the habits of our teachers and our students because right now safety is not the number one priority,” said Thomas. “They’ll come in or leave from any door in our high school. There are 27 doors at the high school. If a kid is late he’ll get on his cell phone, tell his friend, his friend will get a hall pass and come let him in. That’s gotta stop.”
Opponents who spoke at the school board meeting said arming staff is an extreme measure that distracts from other necessary steps to improve school climate and security. School board trustee, Kim Bateman, said she was concerned that the community had not been notified the vote would happen so soon, and that more time was needed to discuss the measure with students.
The policy passed 5 to 2, with two absent.