Alternative proposed to arming Lake Pend Oreille teachers



Posted on October 23, 2013 at 4:41 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 23 at 6:20 PM

PONDERAY, Idaho.--An idea to arm teachers with guns at one North Idaho school district is taking a new turn. Lake Pend Oreille School District leaders announced Wednesday that they are considering an alternative to protect students.

The School District Chair said School Board leaders like the idea of having volunteer officers patrol their schools instead of arming their teachers. The volunteers would be retired police officers.

Board leaders met Tuesday night. They decided to study the idea of having volunteer officer patrols. The proposal is called Volunteers on Patrol or V.O.P’s. The board met in early October to discuss the different options and hear public testimony on a proposal that would train and arm teachers with guns.

WATCH: North Idaho school district considers arming teachers

"The idea is that you get a unit of retired police officers that they would select, vet, train, and outfit just like any other officer essentially. So if there is an incident, unfortunately, they’re Johnny on the spot and we got it covered,” said LPOSD School Board Chairman Steve Youngdahl.

Youngdahl said the proposal to arm staff members is not off the table. In September, Youngdahl said he had received an overwhelmingly positive response to the idea. He contends that the idea of arming school staff could prevent the next school shooting.

A poll of a local teachers union found that most teachers were against the idea of being armed. Some parents launched a recall effort against Youngdahl.

WATCH: Lake Pend Oreille Schools discuss arming teachers

"This isn't Washington, D.C. You know. And I don't think intimidation politics is a good thing to inject when were trying to have a conversation about keeping kids safe,” said retired teacher Cindy Wanek.

Youngdahl said he is hopeful more people will be in favor of the V.O.P. idea.

"Well, I think the second option is a much better option. I think it's wrong to put guns in the classroom of any kind in the classroom,” said Sandpoint resident Anna Behrens.

Youngdahl said it all comes down to preventing a potential tragedy.

"At the end of the day, it's all about keeping the students and the staff safe,” said Youngdahl.

The district superintendent plans to meet with the Sheriff’s Office to further discuss the idea before formally drafting a proposal.