Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Despite Calls To Arm Teachers, Most Schools Opt For Other Measures

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network
A new controlled entry system in the Coeur d'Alene schools requires visitors to speak to the front office over video before coming in.

Parents and students across the Northwest are seeing many new security measures as a result of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012.

But one of the most talked about changes -- arming teachers -- has failed to materialize.

Beginning Wednesday, visitors at schools in one north Idaho district will be required to check in by video and be buzzed in. Last year, Coeur d'Alene voters approved a $1.4 million school levy to pay for the new entry system and other security upgrades.

Superintendent Matt Handelman says that includes surveillance cameras, GPS tracking on school buses.

“We are trying to put as many layers as we can," says Handleman, "to make our kids and our staff safer.”

But at the urging of local law enforcement, one measure the district isn't taking up is arming staff and teachers. In fact, few districts in the Northwest have -- even where the population is hardly gun-squeamish, like north Idaho.

The National Rifle Association and others had recommended the step as a measure to stop armed intruders.

“I just think there's a societal – it's just part of the zeitgeist that people don't want schools to be like armed fortresses,” says University of Oregon professor Jeffrey Sprague, who studies school safety and security.

A board member in Sandpoint, Idaho, who floated the idea of arming teachers now faces a recall election.

Last fall, the Idaho School Boards Association voted down a proposal to set up a weapons training program for educators. And in Oregon, the Eagle Point schools had planned to circulate a survey to parents asking what they think about training and arming teachers, but that has yet to happen.