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School Sentinel Vote Delayed

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A proposed bill that would give school boards the option to create sentinel programs, will have to wait to be voted on until Friday. The House Education Committee heard from those both for and against the bill, and they decided they needed more time to make a decision.

It was an intense discussion as legislators heard from both sides on house bill 1087.  

“I couldn't protect the kids in my classroom, or myself, if we had one of these lunatics, like they had in Connecticut come in and shoot up the place,” said State Representative Betty Olson.

“I don't want to carry a gun, nor do I want to work in a school, where other teachers, or other staff who may not be trained carry a gun,” said Sandra Arseneault, teacher, Custer.

To promote school safety, the bill would allow school boards to decide whether or not faculty members could carry a gun on school property. Those in favor said for rural school districts, where they may not be able to afford a security guard, and police are far away, could benefit from the bill.

“If a school feels defenseless, we as their representatives and senators, we support their right to defend themselves however they decide to do so,” said State Representative Scott Craig.

Representatives said those who may want to cause harm, prefer ‘soft targets,’ like schools.

" Law enforcement and military prefer a hard target, which leaves a strong possibility that there will be failure for the active shooter,” said State Rep. Craig.

While those in favor said schools need to be ‘hard targets’ to keep away the bad guys. Those not in favor, said bringing more guns into schools would only raise nerves.

Those opposed to the bill said more guns could be more trouble.

“We believe more firearms in schools, makes school even more unsafe,” said Wade Pogany, Associated School Boards of South Dakota.

And they are calling the bill counterproductive.  

" The language of the bill suggests increase protection, but more guns actually increase the risks,” said Pogany.

After over an hour of back and forth from both sides, the committee made its decision.
“On Friday we will continue the discussion,” said State Representative Jacqueline Sly.

Meaning this heated discussion may be far from over.

Another debated topic on sentinel programs was whether or not school boards should be making the decision, or if it should be left up to legislators.
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