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Oklahoma Superintendent Speaks Out About His District’s Decision To Let Teachers Carry Guns

Amber Ross
AP Images
Okay Public Schools Superintendent Pete Hiseley says employees who carry firearms in his schools are well-trained.

Oklahoma lawmakers enacted legislation in 2015 that lets school employees, including teachers, carry guns on campus. Okay Public Schools, near Tahlequah, appears to be the only district in the state that uses the law to arm its staff.

Superintendent Pete Hiseley did not work for the district in 2015 when the Okay Public School Board agreed to let school employees carry guns.

“I can’t speak for all the reasons that this policy was put in place,” he said, “I can only speculate it was for the betterment and protection of our students and our staff.”

He says he when got to the district about nine months ago he was uncertain about the policy, but now Hiseley says he feels comfortable with it. The Feb. 14 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. has reignited a national debate about gun control legislation and how best to protect schools.

“I have a better understanding about the multiple employees that we have trained,” he says. “I understand what our policy is about. I understand that the training that they have to go through, it’s intense.”

Oklahoma law requires armed school staff to have a concealed carry permit. Armed staff members are also required to complete a 72-hour armed guard program. But Hiseley says the staff members with guns at his school are even more advanced.

“They’ve trained with Homeland Security, they’ve trained with multiple agencies, multiple days, multiple hours, at our school,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for the amount of time that they’ve put into that program.”

Hiseley won’t say which school employees are armed. He also says the district would never require any employee to carry a gun.

Hisley says the decision to arm teachers should be made by the community and its local school board. He doesn’t think the state, or anyone else, should tell school officials whether or not employees should have guns.

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In graduate school at the University of Montana, Emily Wendler focused on Environmental Science and Natural Resource reporting with an emphasis on agriculture. About halfway through her Master’s program a professor introduced her to radio and she fell in love. She has since reported for KBGA, the University of Montana’s college radio station and Montana’s PBS Newsbrief. She was a finalist in a national in-depth radio reporting competition for an investigatory piece she produced on campus rape. She also produced in-depth reports on wind energy and local food for Montana Public Radio. She is very excited to be working in Oklahoma City, and you can hear her work on all things from education to agriculture right here on KOSU.
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