As of Tuesday, February 7, 2017
RIGGINS In the event the unthinkable occurs, the Salmon River Joint School District wants to be prepared to adequately handle a crisis. In an effort to be proactive, board members have discussed various points of a conceal carry policy for the past year, and on Feb. 6 sent a letter to all district patrons.
In the letter, Superintendent Jim Doramus outlines steps the district has taken to provide a safe and secure learning environment. It then announces the release of a draft conceal carry policy, directs patrons to the district website for review, and invites the public to attend the Feb. 21 board meeting to address questions and concerns.
Doramus wrote, “due to our remote location, the board has also been working on a draft policy to allow board approved staff members to have weapons on school property during school hours and activities.”
The proposal allows staff, who have been approved by the district and received training through the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office, to conceal carry and/or keep weapons in a locked safe. Those eligible must pass 40 hours of weapon and tactical training by a certified instructor.
The superintendent said the board carefully reviewed similar policies from districts across the country and worked with staff and administrators to construct this draft.
“We wish we hadn’t gotten to this point. We don’t take this lightly,” he said.
The full proposed policy can be found online at http://jsd243.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CCP.pdf. Doramus asked that questions or concerns be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One Riggins resident agreed there was a need for some type of policy.
“As a community member and a parent of kids at both the elementary and high schools, I feel we have little to no protection here in Riggins,” said Tracie Pottenger. “There is no longer a deputy here, it takes [ICSO] at least an hour to get here. We need some way to protect our kids, if the unimaginable happens. We can never truly prepare for a school shooting or intruder, but we need something in place to stop an incident and even detain someone until [ICSO] can get here.”
While hopeful the policy will provide some sort of deterrent to gun violence, she did have one concern about the proposal as it’s currently written.
“I am in favor of the conceal and carry policy for administrators, but not to have the actual teachers carrying on their person during class. It is also an option to have a quick entry safe that trained staff can get to immediately if needed,” Pottenger said.
Without a local police department, the Riggins school district relies on law enforcement coverage through ICSO. Response time can be at least 45 minutes, depending on proximity of the nearest available deputy.
According to a booklet issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene.”
Staff, administrators and board members participated in an active shooter training session Dec. 2 at the Salmon River Junior-Senior High School. Doramus reviewed how the session went at the district’s Dec. 19 meeting.
Prior to that, at the Aug. 15 school board meeting, Doramus had said he spoke with Greg Alexander, superintendent of the Garden Valley School District, about a policy instituted in its district. The Garden Valley, Idaho, school district approved in June 2015 the purchase of guns to be stored in camouflaged safes at the school.
The policy has been listed on the school board agenda each month since the topic was brought to the board in May 2016.