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Superintendent Douglas says Arizona law would allow armed teachers

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LISTEN: Diane Douglas, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction

PHOENIX — Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said that Arizona would not need to change any laws to begin arming teachers on campus.

“That’s an issue we’ve already addressed in state statute,” she told Bill Buckmaster on Tucson’s AM 1030 KVOI.

She cited a law that requires school boards to prohibit guns on school property, unless the armed person is a peace officer or authorized to carry by the board.

Douglas said the law could clear the way for school boards to begin arming some teachers or staff.

“They could look at the people who have had training,” she said. “We have teachers on our campuses that are former military.”

However, Douglas said she does not want to see teachers or others being forced to carry a gun.

“I would never, ever, ever ask a teacher who is not comfortable in that position to just take training and try to fit them into that position, but we need to look at all the resources that are available to us,” she said.

Douglas’ approach fell in line with what Gov. Doug Ducey told President Donald Trump late last month.

“I want teachers teaching, and I want there to be that resource officer. If there is a teacher with a special exception — they’re a veteran, or former law enforcement, or they’re trained, and there’s that opportunity — I would be open-minded to that,” Ducey said in a story posted by Politico.

The superintendent would also use a three-pronged approach to protect schools.

“I think there’s a lot of things we can do to make sure we keep our schools safe but it’s ironic to me that … if you go into any bank in America, we have a lot of security to make sure we keep our money safe. I think we should keep our children equally safe,” she said.

Douglas’ plan would take $100 million from a ballot measure that would raise the state sales tax and apply it to securing Arizona schools. That would include a perimeter fence that may only have one or two entry points, a threat assessment for campuses and put more school resource officers on the job.

The hiring of the officers is typically left to individual districts, but Douglas said some simply can’t afford it.

“It’s a very challenging issue for them, unless there were to be funding that comes directly from the state for that,” she said.

Bruce St. James & Pamela Hughes

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