MONTPELIER, Ohio - The Montpelier Exempted Village Schools Board of Education has approved the carrying of handguns by its custodial staff.
The 5-0 vote of the board Wednesday night to allow handgun training for four custodians to be able to tote weapons at the K-12 campus at the Williams County school came after last month's deadly shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
School officials say that having armed personnel - believed to be the first for any school system in Ohio - is designed to thwart incidents of violence and prevent what happened in Newtown, Conn., from occurring here.
"Sitting back and doing nothing and hoping it doesn't happen to you is just not good policy anymore. There is a need for schools to beef up their security measures," Supertendent Jamie Grime told The Blade today. "Having guns in the hands of the right people are not a hindrance. They are a means to protect."
School board President Larry Martin said that while the school distict began looking into arming employees about six months ago, the board didn't announce the concept publicly until Wednesday's monthly meeting.
He said the Dec. 14 massacre of 20 children and six staff at Sandy Hook heightened the decision to put the resolution on the board agenda.
"Our main goal is to offer safety for our students while they are in the classrooms and in the buiding," Mr. Martin said. "We have to do something and this seems like the most logical, reasonable course to go with."
Before voting on the resolution, which was approved 5-0, village Police Chief Jeffrey Lehman met with the board and superintendent in executive session to provide advice, suggestions, and his professional opinion, said Mr. Martin, a school board member for 20 years.
School officials also reviewed the resolution with the district's Cincinnati-based law firm, Ennis, Roberts, and Fischer, LPA, to determine whether gun possession by janitors in the classroom is legal under the state's concealed-carry license law.
Mr. Grime said their legal counsel advised that Ohio's gun law allows for school boards to authorize employees to possess weapons on school grounds if they pass the requirements of the concealed-carry law.
The school district will pay for the employees to undergo a two-day training class in mid March, when instructors with the Tactical Defense Institute of West Union, Ohio, will give them a defense class on handgun use in Montpelier.
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