School board says Gap 'yes,' guns 'no'

OROVILLE – The majority of the Oroville School Board seemed less than ready to approve staff members carrying guns, but the district will forge ahead with Gap training for the 2015/16 school year and won’t arm staff.

The subject came up at the end of the board’s Monday, July 27 meeting. While Board Chairman Rocky DeVon suggested their be another public meeting to hear from John Ladines of Force Dynamics, the rest of the board seemed unwilling to hear more about arming staff at this point in time. Gap training helps staff learn to fight back and to protect students and staff from becoming victims when there is a threat in their school.

“We had a public meeting last week about Gap training and whether to allow certain trained staff to carry concealed weapons at school in case there is a threat,” said DeVon.

“I want to see where the board’s mind is and where the public’s is before we proceed with arming staff,” said Superintendent Steve Quick. “I don’t want it to be a major distraction for the school board.”

Quick added that the school’s insurers are also hesitant about insuring armed staff.

“They recommend not to do it,” said Quick.

“I can tell you our prosecutor is not for this and he would be the one defending the staff in case of a incident,” said Board member Todd Hill, who is also Oroville’s Police Chief.

Hill added, “The FBI has studied this and they concluded a student has a better chance of being struck by lightning than being injured in a school shooting.”

“I think we’re rushing into this. I think we should forget about arming teachers right now and recommend we look at it again in six months. I’ve had a lot of people call me and they are against this. We are going from zero to 60 and not putting on the brakes,” said Board Member Michael Egerton.

Hill said the board needed to identify whether there was even a need for arming certain school staff members.

“I don’t think there’s the slightest need to do so. I think we are jumping the gun… no pun intended,” said Hill.

Board member Travis Hill said he thought getting more information to the public and more input from the public in return would be a good thing.

One issue that was brought up was the confusion in the public’s mind over the difference between the Gap training and training some staff to carry concealed weapons. Gap training, which has been approved for Oroville, refers to the “gap” in time between a shooting or other threat at the school and the time that police can respond.

“If the district is thinking of arming the staff, as a parent I’d certainly want to know,” said Lisa Cone.

“At this point we are not close to implementing the concealed part of this,” said DeVon.

“I’d really like to separate these two out in the public’s mind,” said Egerton. “Every time you have a meeting on Gap training and you discuss firearms you cause confusion. I’m really for the Gap training, I have real questions about the idea of arming teachers.”

“I think the Gap training is going to be incredible,” said DeVon.

Loudon agreed that the training would be great, but suggested the school take a more proactive look at things like bullying, before they become a problem.

“I’ve heard lots of comments about bullying going on at the school,” said Loudon.

It was suggested that the school hire a full time phycologist, even if the district had to fund it as part of the school levy.

Quick said Okanogan Behavioral Health has suggested the agency would like to get more involved in the schools, to have more influence.

The board tabled the issue of arming staff members, but may address it in the future after they have more information and more public imput.