Superintendent responds to HB 60
by Celia Shortt
Coweta County School Superintendent Dr. Steve Barker outlined his plan for addressing Georgia’s new gun law during the Coweta Board of Education’s recent policy committee meeting.
House Bill 60 allows concealed carry holders to carry guns in more places, including churches, bars, certain government buildings, and even Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta.
“It also allows local school systems the option of arming teachers or administrators,” said Jerry Henry, executive director of gun rights organization Georgia Carry.
“My recommendation was to not arm our employees,” said Barker. Because of this recommendation, no additional policy needs to be drafted to be in compliance with HB 60.
If Barker had advocated school employees to carry, he and the policy committee would have needed to create policy to outline training and requirements for those employees armed.
Currently, Coweta has Security Resource Officers stationed at each school. These officers are the only ones permitted to be armed .
At the meeting, Barker also recommended a change to the current weapons policy.
Previously, if a firearm or dangerous weapon was brought on campus, the student would receive a one-year mandatory expulsion from school, and the school board would be the governing body for the appeal.
The state now allows the superintendent to handle such cases and grant leniency, if necessary.
A lesser penalty will be granted on a case-by-case basis. The superintendent will have to report the results of his findings to the board once a decision has been made.
Other changes to school policy for the next school year include:
• All school board members will now sign the required affidavit after an executive session. Previously, only the chairman of the school board was required to do so.
• Rather than having a separate wellness plan, the Coweta County School System will now “maintain a wellness plan that is in compliance” with the state law.
• The board changed the extended time required for employees with extended day/year salaries from a 187-day work year to a 190-day work year. Earlier this year, the board approved restoring the three teacher furlough days.
• The media program implemented throughout the Coweta County School District will be based on the procedures implement by the superintendent. They will be also be in accordance with the State Board of Education’s rules and regulations.