Residents, board members discuss school safety concerns

Glen Hensley said he no longer has children in public schools but told the School Board on March 8 that he has concerns about active shooter response options.

Lebanon Community School District board members heard from several concerned parties during the public comments sections of their monthly meeting.

Prevention is unrealistic, Hensley said. He said the district and community should be concerned with what “response options are with the hopes that we would never be faced with the necessity of implementing them.”

Relying on the school resource officer is inadequate, he said, referencing the SRO at the Parkland, Fla. school that stood outside while 17 people were shot inside the school.

Hensley said “an immediate discussion should take place regarding whether or not we should develop a program that would provide additional layers of armed response from staff and personnel employed by the district.

“While this may be unpopular in some circles, the necessity is obvious. Failure on the part of the school board to include this option could be interpreted as negligence for failing to act.”

The school district in Florida is being sued, he added.

“All of us have the recognized right, provided by God, to protect ourselves and those we care about,” Hensley said. “The police can’t be everywhere.”

Jim Justice spoke next.

Justice, a Vietnam veteran, said military training never goes away.

At a recent meeting among veterans, “10 or 11” said they would volunteer to guard Lebanon’s schools, he said.

Justice said he also has looked into training for such positions and mentioned he is part of a safety team at his church.

Mica Smith, who spoke after Justice, said “gun free” zones don’t help.

“I know that’s an issue people are going to fight tooth and nail,” Smith said.

“I know from personal experience it takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a weapon,” hesaid after the meeting.

Smith, who has a concealed carry permit, helped stop a knife attack in Lebanon last year.

He currently co-teaches concealed carry classes through NW Self-Defense Education with Scott Turner and is working toward certification through the NRA so he can lead classes.

“We need to have people out there who could hopefully save a life,” Smith said later.

He said he and some colleagues recently volunteered their time to train school staff members who wanted concealed carry training, he told board members.

The first line of defense is school staff, he said.

“It’s not something anybody should be required to do,” Smith said.

If there is a school employee that wanted to be the first line of defense for our children, they should be allowed to, he said.

“My phone number and my email are right here,” Smith said, pointing to the sign-in sheet at the meeting. “We can come up with a training program.”

Melody Antons, an instructional aid at Lebanon High School and military veteran, had a different thought about how to keep schools safe.

“What I think we should consider is smaller class size, so we can get to know the kids,” Antons said. “Something else to consider (is) maybe consider remodeling limiting access to the outside people.”

School safety is a huge topic of concern, Superintendent Rob Hess told those at the meeting.

“We do have a school safety committee that has regular drills,” he said. “Whenever there’s a tragedy the magnitude that Florida was, we kind of look at everything we’re doing, thinking what more can we do to be safer.”

Hess said the district safety committee will review the schools’ lists of safety concerns and ideas.

He offered to add the findings to a school board meeting in the future.

“If we look at a potential bond of some kind we can do some things to make our schools safer,” Hess said.