A survey of employees in South Dakota's school districts shows a majority do not favor drafting a policy for armed sentinels in schools.
House Bill 1087, or the so-called School Sentinel Bill, passed South Dakota's House Tuesday; it now goes to Senate Committee. The bill opens to the door for school boards to draft a policy allowing teachers and staff to be armed on school grounds.
Then, the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over that school district—either city police or the county sheriff—would finalize a school board's decision.
On Wednesday, KSFY News emailed a survey to the superintendents of public schools in the state. The email asked for the survey to be dispersed to all school employees. As of Friday 482 school employees responded.
The data showed that almost 79% of teachers and faculty would not support their school board drafting a policy allowing teachers and faculty to be armed in schools.
KSFY News also asked if those employees would support armed guards in their schools. 481 people replied. 52% said they would support armed guards in schools.
Canton Superintendent Terry Gerber replied to KSFY News in an email. He said the survey does not represent his staff's position.
"What I am hearing from some of my staff is that they are in favor of allowing a gun in the central office but don't believe that teachers need to have access to a gun in their classroom," Gerber said.
Gerber said some of his staff said they are against guns in the classroom, but they understand the need to have access to a gun. He said some would support an armed resource officer or a gun in the central office.
Hovland, Principal of New Underwood Middle School and High School, said he supported the bill because it provides local control. In an email to KSFY News, Hovland said the media has not done a good job of completely explaining what he called a "simple, well thought out piece of legislation."
"Everyone I have spoken to seems to think that teachers will need to carry weapons if the bill passes and that is just not true. Implementation of any plan is entirely up to the local school board," he said.
KSFY News will leave the poll open until next Wednesday in order for those districts or teachers and staff who haven't voted.
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