ARMING EDUCATORS: Local superintendents react to Alabama Sentry Program

Local News

Chambers Co., Ala (WRBL) –  Several East Alabama school systems are responding to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s program to arm certain administrators inside their schools. The Alabama Sentry Program was authorized by the governor this week, providing steps certain administrators can take to have access to a weapon in their schools.

The Alabama Sentry Program can only be used in schools with no school resource officers. Approved administrators will store weapons in a locked location and can only use them in response to an armed intruder. The local superintendent, school board, and county sheriff have to approve a sentry. The administrator or sentry must have a concealed carry permit and be approved as a reserve deputy sheriff. A sentry will have to pass mandatory training, drug screenings, mental health and stress tests.

When it comes to arming administrators inside Chambers County Schools, Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge says her goal is to fact find.   

“There are some very good things about this, but also some red flags raised as well. So right now we are learning as much about it as possible. It says they will be provided training, but it hasn’t spelled out exactly what that training will encompass, how many days, how often will they be re-certified,” said Hodge.

Dr. Hodge says some of her administrators are interested in having access to a weapon; others are not.

“Most people’s concerns are being placed in a scenario where it’s a 15-year old or 13-year old standing in front of you.  How do you make that decision to get that gun or not,” questioned Hodge.

Auburn Superintendent, Dr. Karen DeLano, tells News 3 she will not be supporting the program.

“At this time, in response to the implementation of the Alabama Sentry Program, I am not recommending to our Board to approve arming administrators within Auburn City Schools.  We have the benefit of employing armed School Resource Officers in our schools as well as the opportunity to have a close working-relationship with the Auburn Police Department, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Auburn Fire Department and the Lee County Emergency Management Agency; we are constantly assessing the safety and security of our schools, as it is a top priority, and will continue to monitor the progression of the Sentry Program in school systems around the state, “said Dr. Karen DeLano, ACS Superintendent.
 
Dr. Mark Neighbors, Opelika’s Superintendent, says the district will not participate in the program.

“We understand the challenge that rural systems have due to minimal resources and how this program would be helpful. However, the Opelika City Schools will not be participating in the Alabama Sentry Program.  We are fortunate in Opelika to have a great deal of support from our city so we are working with Mayor Fuller, the Opelika City Council, and the Opelika Police Department to strengthen our safety plan and should have plans in place when school starts in August,” commented Dr. Mark Neighbors, Opelika City Schools Superintendent.

 Back in Chambers County, Dr. Hodge continues researching and paying particular attention to the opinions of her administrators.

“I don’t want to make a policy or force rules or do anything they are uncomfortable with, I also don’t want to limit options if you are in support of it,” said Dr. Hodge.

News 3 will continue to follow the Alabama Sentry Program and update parents as local districts make their decisions regarding arming administrators.

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