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Two first-grade children found a gun in an unlocked case in South Bloomfield Township last spring.
Highland Local Schools officials were alarmed to learn that a gun used as part of a concealed carry program to protect students was found by two first-grade students who removed it from its unlocked case.
The incident played out in mid-March in an administrative office beside Highland Elementary School in South Bloomfield Township near Sparta, but only recently came to light. It has reignited in this Morrow County district — located about 40 miles north of Columbus — a debate over whether teachers and school staff should be armed to protect students from active shooters.
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“My feeling is that (guns) don’t belong in schools,” said Wayne Hinkle, board president of Highland Local Schools, who was the lone opponent of the concealed carry policy enacted by the five-member board a year ago. “You don’t need them.”
Highland Elementary is a short walk to the district’s transportation office, where Vicky Nelson, transportation director, had left her pistol in a small unlocked plastic case near her desk when she left to go to the restroom.
Nelson was trained as part of the district’s concealed carry program and allowed to have a gun on school property.
Someone thought it was a good idea to have guns in schools.
Superintendent Freund, a teacher and administrator for 50 years, said he “became physically sick” when he learned of the March incident. “People were horrified,” he said.
As the district reviews its program, which includes several administrators and “select teachers,” he reminds people that critical incident medical response is 20 minutes away from his district of 1,800 students.
“If someone were to get in with an AR (assault-style rifle capable of firing dozens of rounds in seconds), we’re talking devastation,” he said. “Is it worth the risk to carry and prevent that?”
Can a handgun stop an AR-15?