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Oklahoma Superintendent Speaks Out About His District's Decision To Let Teachers Carry Guns

A demonstration in Washington, D.C., organized by Teens For Gun Reform in the wake of the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Oklahoma lawmakers enacted legislation in 2015 that lets school employees, including teachers, carry guns on campus. Okay Public Schools, near Tahlequah, appears to be the only district in the state that uses the law to arm its staff.

Superintendent Pete Hiseley did not work for the district in 2015 when the Okay Public School Board agreed to let school employees carrying guns.

“I can’t speak for all the reasons that this policy was put in place,” he said, “I can only speculate it was for the betterment and protection of our students and our staff.”

He says he when got to the district about nine months ago he was uncertain about the policy, but now Hiseley says he feels comfortable with it.

“I have a better understanding about the multiple employees that we have trained,” he says. “I understand what our policy is about. I understand that the training that they have to through, it’s intense.”

Oklahoma law requires armed school staff to have a conceal carry permit. They’re also required to complete a 72-hour armed guard program. But Hiseley says the staff members with guns at his school are even more advanced.

“They’ve trained with Homeland Security, they’ve trained with multiple agencies, multiple days, multiple hours, at our school,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for the amount of time that they’ve put in to that program.”

Hiseley won’t say which school employees are armed. He also says the district would never require any employee to carry a gun.

Hisley says the decision to arm teachers should be made by the community and its local school board. He doesn’t think the state, or anyone else, should tell school officials whether or not employees should have guns.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership among Oklahoma’s public radio stations and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Emily Wendler was KOSU's education reporter from 2015 to 2019.
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