Having been authorized by law to designate certain school officials with concealed weapons, Wilson Public Schools has identified five employees to take the necessary training.
Superintendent Eric Smith said that he, along with High School Principal Gary Labeth, Elementary Principal Clifford Benson, Ag teacher Joe Buzidragis and technology director Danny Way began classes Monday night. There are three phases and each one requires 21 hours of instruction.
“We approached the board last spring when the law changed,” Smith said. “We talked on and off about it and started last night.”
Initial instruction consisted of unarmed security procedures, rules and regulations.
“We also began understanding the verbiage they want on reports,” Benson said.
Each of the men will provide their own firearms and the school is paying for the training. Smith said the decision to arm administrators with firearms is in response to the changes that have taken place in society.
“It’s just the fact of the matter,” he said. “So much is happening worldwide. There have been a lot of changes since we were in school.”
Should the unthinkable happen, smaller schools without resource officers are left to fend for themselves as first responders speed toward the scene. Putting concealed weapons in administrators’ possession allows them to provide a more effective line of resistance until help arrives.
“A school shooting situation, even in a small town like Wilson, it is over when the police department arrives,” Labeth said. “A tactical team would take 15 minutes coming out of Ardmore. It’s just another level of protection.”
Benson said the fact that schools and churches are soft targets also necessitated taking proactive steps to provide another element of protection on the school’s campuses. Those selected to take the class were done in a strategic way so that every building has a level of security.
The classes take place four nights a week at the campus of Southern Oklahoma Technolgy Center. Each phase takes two weeks, which will be a month and a half in total. For the school’s employees, it is well worth it.
“I hope we never have to use it,” Smith said. “I hope it’s a deterrent. That being said, when those kids are here, they are ours and I will do anything to protect them.”