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Mixed responses to the “armed staff” sign in the Bauxite School District



Bauxite, Arkansas – The Bauxite School District is getting a lot of attention for this sign. This Monday, the district posted pictures of the placards around campus warning visitors that staff members are armed on social media.

The post has received hundreds of shares and is receiving conflicting feedback.

The program “The Commission School Security Officers,” according to the district’s superintendent, Matt Donaghy, was established in 2018 and enables school officials to choose staff members to be armed and use any necessary force to protect students and staff, particularly in the event of a school shooting.

“You have to be certified by the state police, there’s a lot of training, and background checks and psychological exams,” Donaghy explained.

The banners around campus warning visitors of their armed personnel were put up, according to Donaghy, in part because school authorities did not want Bauxite to become a target following a number of school shootings that have occurred across the nation.

“If you come to our campus, you will be met immediately with whatever force we have to use to stop the threat,” Donaghy stated.

Nearly 200 staff members and up to 2,000 children make up the district, according to Donaghy, who adds that everyone’s safety is of the highest significance.

Donaghy added that program staff members have received hours of training, and they are picky about who they choose.

Because of “safety concerns,” Donaghy was unable to say how many people are now enrolled in the program, but he firmly believes they might be crucial in the event of an on-campus shooting.

“We (school officials) made it very clear this year we (CSSO program members) have to have our weapon on us because we don’t have time to go back in and mess with a lock,” Donaghy said.

According to Tyler Cross, whose son attends Bauxite, he has conflicting thoughts about staff members carrying weapons on campus.

“I don’t want guns in the school. I really don’t think they have any place there.” Cross adds.

Angie Tisdale, whose family has visited Bauxite for many years, has a different opinion.

“I just felt like the sign on the school is a band aid to a bad solution.” Tindale said. “Whenever my son was most excited about it, he felt more comfortable with his daughter (her grandchild) being protected by it. That made me feel more comfortable about it as well.”

Cross stated that he had many inquiries about the program, including details on the training itself as well as the overall amount of hours of training that each member underwent in order to receive their certification. He said that he thinks a major topic, not just guns on school campuses, is the true problem.

“I would love to see some actual gun reform laws,” Cross said.

Any parents who have inquiries should get in touch with Donaghy, he said.

“If they’re concerned about staff members carrying a weapon, it’s something I completely understand and would be happy to discuss with them,” Donaghy said.


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