South Dakota’s proposed school sentinels bill, brought by Rep. Scott Craig and Sen. Craig Tieszen (and incorporating previous ideas by Reps. Betty Olson and Steve Hickey) would let school districts choose to arm employees in “defense of the school.”
(It would not limit schools to arming one person, as a headline error in the Argus Leader mistakenly claimed.)
If a school did choose to arm people, they’d be required to tell law enforcement who those people were. But they wouldn’t be required to announce to the public, or to parents or children, which employees were armed.
Should they have to? Rep. Betty Olson’s original bill to let all school employees carry concealed weapons was based on the logic that armed employees are a better defense against attacks if attackers don’t know who’s armed. On the other hand, a lot of parents might like to know if their grade school child’s math teacher is packing heat.
Another important question: is the decision about arming a “school sentinel” one that can be made in executive session — preventing the public from knowing? Or do the names have to be mentioned in public, where citizens and the press could learn about them even if the district didn’t announce and publicize them?