At a meeting of the Little Rock School District’s Community Advisory Board Thursday evening, Ron Self, the LRSD’s director of safety and security, presented a proposal to arm a fraction of the district’s 80 security personnel.

The LRSD remains under state takeover, which means the district does not have a school board. The community advisory board has no real power to set policy in the district; State Education Commissioner Johnny Key acts as the school board in districts that have been taken over by the state. For the security proposal to be enacted, LRSD Superintendent Michael Poore would have to make a recommendation to Key, who would then have final say over the decision.

Self presented the security proposal Thursday evening at Poore’s behest, but the superintendent said it would not be acted on immediately and declared he would seek input from the community before approaching the commissioner

There are already about 21 armed school resource officers — that is, Little Rock police officers  — stationed in the LRSD’s high schools and middle schools. Self’s proposal would give firearms and nonlethal weapons to 10 other LRSD personnel who work in the security division but are not licensed law enforcement officers and therefore not currently armed: four administrators (one being Self), four security patrol officers and two investigators. The district’s 12 security patrol officers are currently assigned to one of four zones covering the district’s elementary schools, and the plan calls for one patrol officer in each zone to carry a weapon.

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The employees would be licensed as “commissioned school security officers” under a licensing track established by the state legislature. Self said that track entails three phases of training, adding up to 60 hours in all, and said the district would also impose additional requirements of its own, such as a psychological evaluation and body cameras.

Self also presented other security information to the board, including the status of camera and alarm systems and the use of a new “panic button” app that school staff can use to request help in the case of an emergency. The district has about one security staff person per 250 students, Self said.

A few other districts in the state have allowed teachers and other non-security staff to pursue such training — most notably, Clarksville — but Little Rock is not proposing to arm teachers or other support staff.

LRSD spokesperson Pam Smith disseminated the results of a school safety survey the district recently performed, in which 1,613 parents, staff and students responded to questions about perceived security. When asked whether they supported arming teachers in the district, 85 percent of parents said no, along with 80 percent of staff and 72 percent of students. Smaller majorities of Spanish-speaking parents (62 percent) and staff (58 percent) said they were opposed to arming teachers, the survey noted.

The board’s discussion comes in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, in which 17 high school students were killed by a gunman.

UPDATE: Here’s the safety plan presented by Self.

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