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Eureka Superintendent Talks School Safety, Guns In Classroom


This week, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval sat down with a majority of the state's school superintendents to discuss ways to improve student safety. When he announced the meeting, Sandoval said he hopes the discussion will lead to recommendations that could be brought to lawmakers next year. 

Our Reporter Paul Boger sat down with Eureka County School Superintendent Dan Wold who chairs the School Safety Committee for the Nevada Superintendents. Wold begins the conversation by talking about steps his district has taken to promote a safe environment.

We have done quite a bit in the last three years. In 2015, the legislature passed a bill that had us standardize our emergency operation plans and procedures, so we have a committee working on that. Since that time, I can tell you that, just here in Eureka, we've installed single points of entry, what they call "mantraps," so that somebody has to be buzzed in and signed into the office and get a badge to wear. We've upgraded our surveillance cameras. We've upgraded our intercoms with panic buttons. We've installed emergency backpacks with all kinds of supplies in each of the classrooms. We have trauma packs with wound clot tourniquets, things of that nature in each of the offices, gyms, shops, team buses, things of that nature. We've started to have active assailant drills. We have, what we call "run, hide, fight" drills. We have had tabletop exercises with our staff and brought in outside trainers and retired police officers that help work with our staff on what really happens and how you might want to respond to that.

What are your thoughts on arming teachers and having somebody who is trained to use firearms in the classroom?

You know, I think it sounds okay. I'm an NRA member and a reserve law enforcement officer in the state of Nevada and I have my concealed carry permit and have been a competition shooter, so I don't have any problem with guns or people being armed. My problem with having teachers armed, being a law enforcement officer I know that in actual firefight-trained law enforcement hit their target 18% of the time that they send a bullet flying. When you think about even well-trained teachers who have to qualify down at the range and that putting them in a crowded school situation with alarms going off, water spraying down, kids running and asking them to hit the perpetrator and not become a target when law enforcement shows up and sees you in the hall with a gun, I have concerns over that. And most teachers are very responsible, caring people, but their first thought should be their kids. If I'm out there trying to stop the situation, who is watching my kids and what's happening to them?

What do you think needs to be done on a statewide level to address some of these concerns?

Well, please understand that I am one man and not representing the superintendents here when I say this, but I think, as with everything that we're trying to do in education and in government nowadays, it comes down to best practices and practices that are proven. Why not increase what is being successful? We know that counselor intervention is successful. We know that having social workers in schools is successful. We know that staff training on how to detect this stuff is successful. Because most of us now as school districts, if not superintendents, at least the safety officers that come to all of the training that I go to, know what we need to do and we're doing it as fast as we can, in terms of hardening our campuses and training our people, so I think that's the next wave.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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