Officers in Villa Rica trained for a school shooting in 2015. Police won’t be the only ones legally armed in some Georgia school systems in coming years. Two school systems have approved arming teachers, and more are considering it. BRANT SANDERLIN

Another Georgia school district joins the movement to arm teachers

The Fannin County Board of Education approved arming teachers Thursday, becoming the second system in the state to make that move.

The county is on the Tennessee border. It’s 3,212 students and faculty of 179 are dispersed among three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school. It has about about half the number of students as Laurens County schools, which became the first school district in Georgia to adopt the policy last month.

Under Fannin’s new policy, teachers will have to carry the guns holstered. Guns in bags or purses are not allowed.

Employees must be approved by the board of education and the Fannin County sheriff before they’re allowed to carry weapons on school grounds. Teacher volunteers allowed to participate will receive firearm training.

Like Laurens County, Fannin is not disclosing many details.

“Whether and/or how the Board chooses to implement the policy is a confidential matter,” wrote Superintendent Michael Gwatney in response to media questions.

Parent Toni Wallace, who’s been in education for about 30 years told Channel 2 Action News: “I would probably say they need guns, just in case, you know? You have to protect yourself, but you have to protect those children.”

The Fannin proposal says in part, that those employees allowed to carry weapons on school grounds must be approved by the Board of Education and the Fannin County Sheriff. It also says training will include at minimum training on judgment, pistol and long-gun shooting too.

“Hopefully they won’t need them,” Wallace said.

Other school systems in the state may soon adopt similar policies.

Jefferson City Schools in Jackson County voted Thursday to table the vote for another month. Superintendent John Jackson told attendees that he wants to give it another 30 days for community feedback and to consult other school districts on their decision process.

Bleckley County is set to vote on an armed-teachers policy Tuesday.

Shortly after the February 14 shooting in Florida that left 17 dead from an active shooter, the issue of school safety has been at the forefront of Georgia politics. It’s been a main point of many Republican TV ads, and its been a talking point by some local school board candidates.

House Resolution 1414 was introduced March 5 to establish a committee to study violence in schools.

The first meeting takes place at 10 a.m. Monday, May 14, at the Dawson County Board of Education Professional Development Center in Dawsonville. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will be there to cover the meeting.

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