The Campbell County School District (CCSD) Board of Trustees held the first of three public hearings on Tuesday to garner public comment on a proposed policy put forth by the Armed Educators Committee, that, if approved, would authorize qualified employees to carry concealed firearms at the district’s six rural schools.
Only three community members asked questions or voiced concerns on the controversial gun operator policy at the sparsely attended CCSD public hearing.
“I think it went pretty well,” Larry Reznicek, CCSD human resource manager, said. “We have been addressing the idea of this policy with the community for over a year. Many people have already had time to express their views.”
Most of the concerns he’s heard surrounding the proposed policy have been from residents requesting more clarification about associated costs and the necessary staff training on crisis management that encompasses de-escalation tactics beyond basic firearm training.
Another concern, Reznicek said, revolves around notion of concealed carry and how to keep the identify of these staff members confidential.
“We don’t want to scare students, we want to make sure the policy only addresses the worst, terrible moment in the case of an active shooter on school grounds,” he added. “We will train the person to go towards the crisis to mitigate it.”
Speaking at the meeting, one community member expressed her concern for minority students and questioned whether or not there is a hidden bias test in addition to the psychological evaluation that would further help screen staff to determine how they would potentially use their firearm. Surrounded by three students, she voiced concerns for children who are in crisis and appear aggressive yet really aren’t. Will armed staff members be trained to identify this discrepancy, she asked?
Reznicek said that these select staff members would undergo the same psychological evaluation as police officers undergo and would also be trained to mitigate worst-case scenarios above normal student behaviors.
Another community member, who said she was representing others who could not be in attendance that night, wondered about the cost estimates that had been discussed in prior meetings. Reznicek said he was unsure of training costs, but noted that drug testing runs around $75-100 per employee, while the psychological evaluation cost approximately $500 based on figures provided by local law enforcement, with background test costing around $50-75.
The community member further questioned how previously submitted questions to the committee would be answered to which Reznicek said he thought all questions would be answered at the third and final hearing on April 14.
She left off with wondering how an educator would be expected to teach and conceal at the same time, to which Resnicek replied that concealment will be a major part of the training, noting that policy committee members had the same concerns.
As to concerns about students spreading rumors about which teachers or staff might be carrying, Resnicek said that if students do know or have an idea of who is carrying, the armed educator committee might agree, as does state statute, that it’s not a good idea for that educator to continue carrying at that point.
When asked if the potential policy would affect other Campbell County schools beyond rural schools in the future, he replied that he does not know and said that would be a board decision.
The next public hearing will be held on March 3 at 6 p.m. at the Education Services Center Board Room, 1000 W. 8th St. The final hearing will be on April 14 at the regularly scheduled school board meeting, after which, the gun operator policy will be up for vote.
If approved, the policy would cover six rural schools, including Conestoga, Rozet, Rawhide, 4-J, Little Powder, and Recluse.
The notice of intent, policy and regulations, and additional information are listed on the CCSD website. Public comments may also be submitted online or mailed in to the district at P.O. Box 3033, Gillette, Wyoming 82717.
The first hearing can be viewed on the Channel 189 archive.