Some parents were alarmed recently to learn that a school district near Sacramento allowed administrators and staff to bring guns to campus, but it turns out the district is one of at least three in California that permit select employees to pack heat.
The 20,000-student Folsom Cordova Unified School District has allowed some staff to bring guns to their jobs since 2010, but revealed the practice last month when the superintendent, Deborah Bettencourt, sent a letter to parents explaining the policy as a safety measure.
"Our narrow practice of allowing select, law-abiding employees to securely store and access a firearm in the event of an emergency is a legal and appropriate safety measure given the unfortunate reality of violence in our society today," she wrote.
Two other districts, the Kingsburg Joint Union High School District near Fresno and Anderson Union High School District in Shasta County, also allow non-law-enforcement staff to bring weapons to school.
"The three districts are acting within the law," said Craig Reynolds, chief of staff for state Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis), who introduced a recent bill that banned non-low enforcement staff from having concealed weapons on campus, although superintendents can grant exceptions.
At Folsom Cordova, some parents said they were surprised to learn of the district's policy. In an interview with CBS 13, parent Amy Dupree said: "I think I'd be more concerned that a child would get hold of the weapon and cause harm more than I'm concerned that it would stop anyone."
Only staff with concealed weapons permits are eligible under the district's policy. They also must have their own liability insurance and interview with Bettencourt, who also reviews their personnel file and disciplinary records. The employees also must undergo safety training and pay for a safe that requires a key and digital code.
Teachers and bus drivers are not permitted to have guns on campus.
District officials declined to say how many employees are allowed to bring weapons to campus, but that not all 32 school sites have permitted staff, said spokesman Daniel Thigpen. Folsom Cordova also has four armed police officers.
No employee has used their weapon during a campus incident since the policy went into effect, Thigpen said.