School Sentinel Survey; Educators and parents join conversation - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

School Sentinel Survey; Educators and parents join the conversation

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During the past few weeks we've been talking a lot about the possibility of teachers bearing arms in the classroom. 

This week, we took that conversation one step further, polling teachers, educators and parents to see what they think about the South Dakota school sentinel bill. 

So far we've heard back from 482 school employees with their thoughts on House Bill 1087. 

The bill passed the SD House Tuesday with a good amount of support from state legislators, but the survey shows many school staff members have a different viewpoint. 

The survey shows 79 percent of school staff members would not support their school board drafting a policy allowing teachers and staff to be armed on school property. 

"I'm not surprised by it, those numbers represent the numbers that we're seeing in terms of feedback as we talk to our school districts, but the numbers do show that there are a notable number of people in our state who want the ability, the flexibility if they need to enhance security," said Representative Steve Hickey. 

Ultimately, Hickey says the point of the bill is to give individual school districts like the ones in our survey the chance to make the decision themselves. 

"We're giving them the option to have this conversation, they can say no, we're not forcing this on any district and if they don't want it, they don't have to have it," said Hickey. 

"It's good for the conversation to be had, I think it's a lot deeper than a quick answer, but it's always good to talk about," said mother of five Jaymi Vandewater. 

Hickey believes once this discussion hits the local level, public opinion will change. 

"Those are numbers that do not reflect the public debate yet, when the districts have this with parents, I think you'll see some of this change," said Hickey. 

Vandewater says she would trust her children's school to do what's best for her kids. 

"I completely trust our school system, our trust their teachers and I know they would be very responsible with being put in that position," said Vandewater. 

"It would be a big responsibility, I wouldn't want it," said father and grandfather Wayne Syverson. 

Our Facebook Poll shows 86 percent of parents would want to know if a gun were present in their child's classroom. 

"If I didn't know about it, it would probably be just a normal day at school but if I did know about it, it would kind of be weird….I would be scared," said second grade student Lainey Vandewater. 

An honest answer from an 8-year-old student, but here's what some parents said on our Facebook page about knowing which teachers would have a gun: 

"Wouldn't want to know. It's concealed carry for a reason." –Shannon  

"I don't need to know which one. The less that know the better and if I can't trust a trained teacher with a gun, how am I supposed to trust them with my child all day?" –Dale  

"I would definitely want to know. I am uncomfortable with my child being in a classroom with an armed teacher." –Tara  

We also asked school staff members what they thought of having an armed guard in their school; 52 percent said they would support armed guards, but Representative Hickey points out the bill would require any school sentinel to have the same training as a law enforcement officer.

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