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Indian Creek Approves Policy for Armed Personnel

MINGO JUNCTION – The Indian Creek Local School District is the latest district looking to permit armed staff members in the name of school safety.

During a special meeting last week, school board members approved a resolution by a 5-0 vote authorizing employees to possess firearms on the premises and in areas designated as safety zones. Steps are being taken to finalize details of the plan and train personnel, but district officials do not expect to enact it anytime soon. The resolution cites a section of the Ohio Revised Code that requires school boards and administrators to adopt emergency management plans containing protocols to address serious threats to the safety of property, students, employees or administrators.

The boards have the authority to permit specific people “to convey or possess deadly weapons in school safety zones” including school buildings, premises, activities and buses.

Board members took action Tuesday following a 90-minute closed door session in which they invited Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla and Wintersville Police Chief Art Fowler Jr. to participate, and officials agreed it was a difficult but necessary move.

“This isn’t just a fly-by-night decision,” said board member Kim Mark, noting the idea has been discussed for the past six to seven years.

Board President Ted Starkey researched the plan and said leaders have discussed it with other superintendents who have achieved success within their own districts.

Board member John Figel interjected that the subject has also been broached at capital conferences and a growing number of districts were moving in the same direction.

“We have to be diligent to detail what has to go into a resolution such as this and not just involve the board and staff, we need to involve the community and law enforcement,” Figel added. “We’re certain that we’ve done everything we can do to assure our students, staff and other members of the community are safe.”

Mark noted her sadness that such a tactic must be taken in light of school shootings and related violence occurring in today’s society.

“We never thought in this day and age that we’d have to discuss this.”

Following more talks, leaders said they hoped to move forward with the plan.

“We’ve looked at this long and hard,” Starkey concluded. “It’s a difficult decision for us but we want to keep kids as safe as possible. We would like law enforcement to work with us and we’re going to take baby steps and not rushing through it.”

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