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Plans To Arm Teachers Shot Down; Attorney General Calls It Illegal

The Arkansas Attorney General shoots down a gun program at a Johnson County School District saying it's not compliant with state laws.
LITTLE ROCK, AR- A controversial gun program at a Johnson County School District was shot down Thursday. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says the program violates state laws. Despite the ruling, Clarksville Schools' Superintendent David Hopkins is defending his plan to arm teachers and staff this fall. Hopkins explains he's done everything to make sure his plan to arm teachers and staff at his schools were legal and approved by the state authorities. Now he has no other choice but to put his plans on hold.

"We really felt we had everything in place. We were ready to roll this out. We felt good about what we've done. We worked very closely with our local police agencies," said David Hopkins, Clarksville Schools' Superintendent

More than 20 teachers and staff underwent 53 hours of drills role playing school shootings using "air soft" pellet guns, with students wearing protective face masks and jackets. Hopkins said the Clarksville School District got a license that allows school employees to carry guns on campus and act as security officers. However, Attorney General McDaniel said the state board doesn't have the authority to issue that license.

"If there has to be legislative remedy, then we're certainly willing to work with legislatures or whatever we need to do," explained Hopkins.

With classes resuming this month, Hopkins wants to make sure his students are safe. Others argue, teachers need to focus on teaching and learning. The Arkansas Education Association President expressed her concerns earlier this week.

"When law officers come, who do they know are the gunmen? Because who do they know are the trained security guards you know in that session?" said Brenda Robinson, Arkansas Education Association President.

Brenda Robinson also said parents are taking their children out of the district because they don't feel secure with guns on campus. Hopkins who is a parent himself, trusts he has the right people in place to ensure student safety.

"I'm comfortable with our school resource officers that we have at our schools and the fact is the level of training that our people are receiving is the same training officers receive," explained Hopkins.

Right now, Hopkins is waiting to see what happens to the license the state board granted his district. It's the license that allowed his staff to train as security guards. Hopkins said the district plans to talk with its legal counsel.

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