ALBION, Ind. (WANE/KPC NEWS) - A program to arm teachers in the classroom of Noble County schools faced a new hurdle Monday night. According to KPC News, In a 3-0 vote on Monday, the Noble County Commissioners decided not to assume liability for the proposed program.
According to KPC News , the vote removes the option of providing teachers with special deputy status.
"We're disappointed by the decision made by the county commissioners, but it's certainly not going to stop us from trying to do what is best for kids in this case," said Central Noble Schools Superintendent Chris Daughtry.
The county's sheriff also believed something can be worked out.
"The problem with this whole process is this is new territory with everyone," said Noble County Sheriff Doug Harp Tuesday morning. "For the commissioners, for the schools, for us, for the insurance companies."
Harp said this program has had hurdles to climb before, and hoped to find a way over this one he and the school districts face.
"We don't want to put somebody in the position of they're acting under the guise of special deputy, and they get injured and they're not covered by workers compensation," Harp said.
Harp and his staff have spent time already training teachers in the county for the program. Daughtry said Tuesday he hoped to see it be put in place before the end of the school year.
Harp proposed making school staff member special deputies, who would be armed and trained to deal with active-shooter situation.
"Our only role in this is to assume liability or not assume liability," said Commissioner Chad Kline at Monday night's meeting.
One school superintendent said he believed the county would be liable one way or another if an active-shooter ever comes onto a school campus.
"It's going to be a county issue anyway," Daughtry said. "Obviously we don't want anything to happen, but if something were to happen, they're also going to have some liability issues on their hand with an active-shooter. The liability can go both ways on that. There's some unanswered issues as far as that goes on their end, with making a decision like this as well."
Jarrod Ramer said the carrier for Noble County's and East Noble's workers compensation insurance would not renew if the special deputy program were put in place.
Ramer is the county's insurance agent, and he spoke to the broker for East Noble and Central Noble, Bill Lear, before the hearing. The same insurance company insures Noble County and East Noble through the different agents. Ramer reported what he said Lear told him about the school insurance.
Central Noble's insurer had not yet a made a decision on whether it would carry workers compensation insurance if the special deputy program were in place there, Ramer reported.
Different attorneys have given different opinions about whether school staff members can be armed without special deputy status under Indiana law.
Kline cited some attorneys who have said recently that the law would allow school employees to be armed if the school district authorizes it.
County attorney Dennis Graft said the statute is broad enough to allow schools to permit armed staff members, but still is subject to interpretations that could restrict or eliminate that possibility down the line.
Kline and Commissioners President Gary Leatherman agreed the county should provide training for school staff to deal with the active-shooter situations.
"I'm not against arming staff," Leatherman said. "However, they must be trained." The sheriff's department and other police agencies are the logical resources from which to get such training, he said.
"I think we should do the training," Leatherman said. "My only issue was assuming the liability for a special deputy." He said the program should be the schools' responsibility "from front to back."
Kline agreed. "I think we should be doing the training," he said. "I just don't think we should be carrying them (school staff) on our liability insurance. "
Schools may have to change their policies to allow the weapons for the training, Kline said.
Central Noble school board president Rodney Stayner spoke in support of the special deputy proposal, saying it would be an extra layer of security for students.
Harp said the issue of insurance nonrenewal is a major problem for implementing the program. "Especially for East Noble, if it's a workers compensation issue, that's a big stumbling block," he said.
Harp said the program will go forward, and it could be very much like what has been proposed, except that school staff members wouldn't be special deputies. He will meet with school officials to determine the next steps , he said.
All agreed the safety of the students is foremost.
"Whatever we've got to do to protect the kids, that's the main thing," Stayner said.
Harp said he planned to meet with school officials later in the week to discuss what options are available going forward.
"We've talked about reserved officers, if that's a possibility," he said. "If those folks are in the schools,
how does that comp issues and liability issues come into play with that."
Information from our partners at the KPC News.
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