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.
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.
The employees would be licensed as “commissioned school security officers” under a licensing track established by the state legislature.
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,
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
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.