Idaho school districts continue to pioneer policies that arm trained staff members in the interest of school safety. Garden Valley School District became the first in the state to approve such a policy three years ago. Now, another Idaho district is taking the policy one step further by allowing staff to concealed carry.
"People are tired of having a target on their back and that was my main reason of doing," said Mike Dominguez a Mountain View School District Board Member.
On Monday, Mountain View School District in rural north central Idaho approved a policy allowing staff to carry firearms. It's a policy similar to what Garden Valley School District implemented in 2014. While Garden Valley keeps its weapons under lock and key, Mountain View is allowing concealed carry. A move they say law enforcement recommended.
"They felt that if we don't concealed carry then there is no use to have a policy at all. Just like a carpenter going up a ladder without a hammer, you've got to have your tools with you," said Dominguez.
Just like Garden Valley, Mountain View's remote location makes it hard for law enforcement to get there quickly, in some cases, up to an hour and 45 minutes. School leaders say they realized they needed to do something, after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. They say, with their limited budget, arming staff is much cheaper than trying to pay a full-time school resource officer.
"We need to get this target off our back," said Dominguez.
Staffers will be armed on a volunteer basis and will have to undergo serious vetting and more than 40 hours of training. While the policy was approved this week, we won't be seeing approved guns in their district until next school year as leaders say they want to take the needed steps to roll the policy out right. Once it is in place, they say they plan to review the policy constantly.
"One of the questions we had from our patrons was do we think this is a fix all and it's absolutely not, you know maybe it's not the perfect policy but I think it's definitely in line with what we want to do," said Dominguez.