Sidney schools have guns at the ready

An estimated 30 Ohio school districts, including Sidney City Schools, include in their security plans guns that are locked in safes, ready to be used by trained staff in case an active shooter enters school grounds.

Sidney City Schools superintendent John Scheu firmly believes the move to improve security with more weapons, while controversial, is necessary in the wake of recent school shooting not unlike the one Monday at Madison Local Schools and the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook.

  • Sidney educators keep guns in lock boxes
  • Only trained staff can open box with fingerprint
  • 30 districts in Ohio have similar plan

“Sandy Hook took us to an entirely different level in terms of taking a real serious look at what we are doing system-wide in our seven buildings to provide better security for our staff and for students,” Scheu said. “We decided to be proactive instead of reactive.”

The Sidney district examined its options and concluded that measures beyond having armed resource officers in the buildings were needed.

The biggest change comes inside a gun safe, hidden away and known only to the trained staffers whose fingerprints will unlock the door and provide access to a firearm. Scheu said the school board publicly discussed making weapons available to the staff and came away with a decision to be among the first — if not the first — to arm teachers in Ohio.

Unlike other districts that are reluctant to discuss security and firearms, Sidney has publicized it in hopes that word of the extra layer of security will deter anyone from thinking of entering a school with a weapon.

In fact, the district has prominent signs outside each building that proclaim “Deputy Sheriff and First Responder Team Present on Premises.”

Law enforcement experts believe that more than two dozen Ohio school districts have made guns available to teachers in case of an emergency, but the Ohio Department of Education does not track such statistics.

Scheu said 40 staff members at the district have been trained in the program.

The training for teachers and staff who have access to firearms in an emergency includes a 16-hour course developed by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. Once a month, deputies who work in the schools train as a team with the teachers who volunteered to be weapon certified.

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