Two first grade students near Highland Elementary School in South Bloomfield Township managed to remove a “school safety gun” from an unlocked box in an administrative office, leaving Ohio school officials shocked and highly concerned.
The situation occurred in March; however, it was only disclosed to the public this week. In fact, it has even since reignited a debate about whether teachers and school staff should be armed to protect students from shooters.
According to Huff Post, the 6-year-old students managed to obtain a gun belonging to the transportation director, who left her gun in an unlocked case in her office with her grandson and the first-grade daughter of an assistant, when she went to use the restroom. When the director returned, the gun was on a desk, and the two children were playing nearby.
School superintendent Dan Freund told The Columbus Dispatch he assumed the children removed the gun and at least held it before putting the weapon down on the desk. He said he became “physically sick” when he heard what had happened. “People were horrified, ” he added.
Wayne Hinkle, board president of Highland Local Schools, said, “My feeling is that [guns] don’t belong in schools.” Under Ohio law, school boards must have safety plans for concealed weapons programs and training for those with weapons on campus. They, however, do not have to reveal to parents which personnel may be armed or if they have a concealed weapons program.
“You get on a bus or airplane; you don’t have a right to know if there’s an undercover officer or air marshal sitting next to you. … The school has a legal and moral duty to protect those kids,” Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearms Association, which advocates for guns and trains school personnel, said to the Dispatch.
The transportation director was reportedly removed from the school’s concealed weapons program and suspended without pay for three days.