NEWCOMERSTOWN, Ohio - Teachers and other staff members at the Newcomerstown Exempted Village School District will have the option of bringing guns into schools under a new policy that goes into effect this fall.
School Board President Jerry Lahmers said the district approved the plan after reviewing suggestions made by a parent safety committee. He said school leaders are not aware of any other Ohio school districts enacting such a plan.
"We hope we never have to test the plan, but students' safety is paramount," Lahmers said.
As part of the "emergency response plan", the district will not reveal which employees, or how many, decide to bring guns into Newcomerstown's four school buildings. He said it would be counterproductive if the public knew who was carrying.
The district has about 130 employees and 1,100 students.
Those carrying guns would be required to obtain concealed carry permits and participate in "tactical training" with local law enforcement. Staff members would also have to prove the guns are stored safely in classrooms or other parts of the buildings.
Jan Sayre, 48, said she supports the plan to arm school employees especially in light of the Sandy Hook mass shooting in Connecticut.
"I want my granddaughter protected in schools as well as any other kids in the school district," Sayre said.
Joy Marlett, 85, graduated from Newcomerstown High in 1947.
While many feel schools should remain gun-free zones, Marlett said she supports teachers carrying guns as long as they're properly trained.
"You send your kids to school to be safe and to learn, but you don't know anymore," Marlett said.