Your child’s teacher may carry a gun, but nobody may ever know.
The Tooele County School Board Tuesday adopted a new policy on employee personal firearms to comply with state law and to clarify the board’s position on staff who carry firearms while at school.
“Except for designated school resource officers, possession or use of a firearm is not required for or part of the fulfillment of the job responsibilities of any employee of the Tooele County School District,” the new policy states.
It continues, “Possession or use of firearms by district employees is therefore not requested by or endorsed by the district. Any and all liability or harm arising out of an employee’s decision to possess or use a firearm will be the sole responsibility of that employee, without any recourse to or liability protection from or through the district.”
District Superintendent Terry Linares said while a teacher with a permit may have a gun in school, they must keep it concealed.
“That means they can’t put the gun in a desk drawer or in a filing cabinet,” she stressed. “If the gun is in a purse, then the purse must be on their body.” Utah state law allows a person with a concealed firearm permit to carry their firearm on school premises. School districts can’t adopt policy that forbids teachers and employees to carry guns if they have a concealed firearm permit.
The Utah State Office of Education publishes a “frequently asked questions and answers” on gun laws and regulations. According to the USOE, educators with a permit that carry a gun to school can’t announce to students or staff that they are carrying a gun. They also can’t flash their jacket open to reveal a gun.
These actions mean the gun is no longer concealed, according to USOE.
According to Linares, administrators can’t ask teachers if they are carrying a gun.
“That’s the counsel we have received from Carol Lear, the attorney for the state school board,” she said.
The school district has no way of knowing how many teachers and other employees are carrying guns at school.
“If we hear that a teacher has a gun in their filing cabinet, we can come to the room and ask if there is a gun in the filing cabinet and open the cabinet and look,” said Linares.
The district will distribute copies of the new policy, along with a copy of the legal requirements for a concealed weapon, to all staff, the superintendent added.
After the school shooting in Connecticut last December, several concealed firearm permit instructors around the state offered classes to educators who wanted to complete a concealed firearm permit class, a prerequisite to obtaining a permit to carry a concealed firearm permit.