Gillette schools open month-long survey on weapons in schools

GILLETTE — The school district has opened a month-long survey of Campbell County residents about its consideration of allowing educators to conceal carry guns as part of a security measure.

The Campbell County School District’s survey opened online Monday morning and will continue through June. 

The survey asks those responding to describe themselves, such as whether they are a current CCSD student, parent, Campbell County community member or other.

Those responding must give their first and last names, their street addresses and their ZIP codes.

Since the survey is intended for Campbell County residents only, the personal information is being sought to verify residency only. No personal information will be shared with the public, said Deputy Superintendent Kirby Eisenhauer.

The lone question is the responder's opinion of having select employees become concealed armed educators and allows those responding to pick three options: either for, need more information or against, and allows an additional space to add comments.

The community survey question explains that the Wyoming Legislature, “as an option to address school violence” has allowed individual school districts to create criteria for allowing certain school employees to carry a concealed firearm on school property.

“The requirements for carrying must be approved by local law enforcement and include firearms training,” it adds. “We value your opinion on this topic and ask that you complete the short survey below.”

The survey is part of a process by the school board and school officials to consider a measure or policy allowing concealed carry of district employees ranging from custodians to certified teachers.

As it has considered the idea, the district has had three public hearings to gather comments and surveyed school staff in the final week of the regular school year with the same question.

Now they hope to gather an opinion from the public and written statements as well, said Eisenhauer, who is overseeing the effort along with a school district committee involving administrators, principals and the public to consider security measures.

In approving the start of the month-long community survey, Anne Ochs, school board chairwoman, said district has taken careful and deliberate steps since spring 2018.

The board will meet July 17 and may make a decision of whether to formulate a policy or go forward in that meeting.

The issue also may be part of a retreat topic the board will look at more closely in November, she added. Then the board might vote on the framework of such a policy in December 2019.

If approved then, the board will consider training, followups with educators selected to be armed and psychological evaluations, Ochs said. If not approved, the board also could look at additional deterrents to put in place.

“The first decision by the board has to be made before we go down that road (setting out training requirements and more),” she said. “We will take our time and if we aren’t ready, we won’t do it.”

If a new policy is proposed, it would undergo two readings and votes by the school board as well as two required public hearings if approved on a first reading.

“We will move forward if we choose to do so or work on deterrents or both,” Ochs said.