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Selma educators to discuss Governor’s Program

On Wednesday, May 30, Gov. Kay Ivey announced a plan to let principals and other administrators store weapons on campus so they can respond to possible shooting situations.

The Alabama Sentry Program is a voluntary program which will permit administrators in schools, without a School Resource Officer (SRO), to maintain a firearm on campus in a secured safe in order to be prepared to respond to an active shooter situation. The Sentry Program will require that the administrator successfully complete training created and certified by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). Unlike teachers, school administrators have complete access to their schools and are responsible for the safety of all students at the school, not an individual classroom.

“The Governor’s SAFE Council recommended adding more School Resource Officers throughout our state, a solution that I support, and will work with the legislature to implement. However, until we have a concrete plan to increase the number of SROs, we must provide a way for schools to protect their students in the upcoming school year. I have created the Alabama Sentry Program to provide additional security measures for our children, and to utilize the current summer break to train those who volunteer to be a sentry,” Ivey said. “The Alabama Sentry plan is a reasonable and measured approach to provide an additional tool for schools without a resource officer. With the unfortunate continued occurrence of school violence across our country, we cannot afford to wait until the next legislative session.”

The Sentry Program will be established immediately, through administrative action, under existing law. The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) and ALEA, acting through the Governor’s Securing Alabama’s Facilities of Education (SAFE) Council, will develop a memorandum of understanding, implementation regulations, and guidance to participants. ALEA and ALSDE will establish guidelines for training requirements, stress tests, mental-health evaluations, and drug screenings.

Selma City School Superintendent Dr. Avis Williams, said that the school system is considering the program adding that a decision will be made as summer leadership training continues.

Williams said that as of now there has been no plans to move forward with it but further discussion is needed.

Williams also said that school safety is one of the main topics of these meetings.

Williams also added that there are no SROs in the Selma City School system just unarmed security officers at the secondary schools.

Dallas County Superintendent Hattie Shelton did not return comment by press time for comment about the Sentry Program in the Dallas County School System.

According to the Associated Press, this program garnered mixed reactions ranging from “the worst idea” from the NAACP to the Alabama Association of School Boards Executive Director Sally Smith calling it a “reasonable, interim solution.”

A spokesman for the Alabama Department of Education, Michael Sibley, said a recent survey of superintendents turned up 250 total officers in local school districts. Not all systems responded, and the state was trying to determine exactly how many schools don’t have officers, said Sibley.