Genoa, AR – When you hear about school shootings, many people in rural areas do not consider their schools to be potential targets. That view is changing with what appears to be a national rise in shootings, and now the smaller schools are considering their options to protect students. Genoa Central Schools is one such district that will consider their options this evening at the school’s board meeting. The superintendent and board will consider several options, but the first one to be mentioned publically has been deputizing teachers.
Like many schools, Genoa has dealt with potentially dangerous students in the past. There have been threats, fights, and other issues, but there have been no mass styled shootings such as those seen in other states. Usually, during any incidents at the school, the resource officer from the Miller County Sheriff’s Department has been on-site or at least nearby to address the problem. If a student has made a verbal threat, the officer has responded and talked directly with the student, taking action as appropriate.
Genoa, Arkansas is certainly not an anti-gun district or area. Several of the students hunt and have done so since an early age. Many of them have grown up around guns and the school even has a trap shooting team and archery. While the days of the “gun rack” in the back of pickup trucks may be long gone, it’s certainly not unusual to see the parking lot lined with four-wheel drive vehicles in the area covered with clear indications, usually mud, that they have gone into the woods or are used in outdoor activities that possibly include hunting or target practice. Despite what is likely a very comfortable atmosphere with guns for hunting and even defending your home, the school is still concerned about the potential of a shooter crisis.
The board will meet this evening, however, it will not discuss options which include the potential to arm some teachers, find out ways to deputize some teachers, increase deputies on site, or some other potential solution may be suggested. There are likely people who will want to keep the school a gun-free-zone; however, advocates for arming teachers will be quick to point out that the gun-free signs are usually ignored by potential shooters. The school has indicated that they will give plenty of notice prior to a public meeting regarding the potential changes and updates for the school.
The district should keep a few things in mind as they move forward with the meeting tonight. First, any arming or concealed weapons being considered for teachers should only be done with training, possibly concealed carry training, caution, and preparations through new policies, and extended security measures. The district must be able to ensure the gun does not fall into the wrong hands at any point during the school day. There should also be considerations for potential pay differentials for those willing to carry and arm themselves while on campus or at school events. The second thing that must be remembered is that unlike any other district in Miller County, Genoa is located on a state highway. This means the schools are subject to more traffic and a greater possibility of someone traveling through and stopping at the school. This fact alone puts the district at an increased potential target threat. Finally, the school must consider options on all concealed carry permits. Will they allow only teachers to carry on campus or will they allow anyone such as concealed carry permit citizen to carry to such events as football games, basketball games, and other school-related events? For the most part, school policies have simply banned all weapons on campus regardless of carrying status up to this point.
While the district is to be applauded for taking appropriate and preventative actions by discussing options, hearing input, and moving forward, it must be remembered that once a plan is in place, it must be monitored, updated, and regulated. By monitoring, updating and regulating a plan, the district will be better equipped and prepared to ensure continued protection for all students, teachers, and visitors on the school grounds.
* Please note – our original article indicated that the school would discuss the options tonight. It was not our intention to mislead; however, we had been told by a couple of sources that tonight’s meeting would address the issue. Since one of our loyal readers, and a member of the community in Genoa advised us that the board is not addressing this issue tonight, we have addressed the issue. Our goal is to have accurate community journalism for everyone in the four states region. Thank you.