Democrat Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam expressed his displeasure with a rural school district’s plan to arm teachers on Wednesday.
The governor is the latest state official to repudiate the unanimous decision by Lee County, Virginia’s school board to arm teachers in its 3,200-student district, according to The Washington Post.
“As a professor of neurology at Eastern Virginia Medical School and, as I said, my wife is a teacher and I talk to a lot of other educators across the commonwealth of Virginia,” Northam told the radio station WTOP. “I just don’t think it’s a good path to take, to say that we’re going to arm teachers; that’s my opinion.”
“Our attorney general [Democrat Mark Herring] is looking at making a ruling on whether this is legal in the commonwealth of Virginia,” the governor said. “I will leave that up to his judgment.”
Northam said that districts can hire school resource officers using funds from a $1.3 million grant provided by the state’s Department of Criminal Justice Services.
But Lee County school board chairman Michael Kidwell expressed doubt that the funds could service all of Virginia’s 130-plus school systems. He told WaPo that the district could not afford officers for seven out of its 11 schools and that arming teachers and other faculty was less expensive.
“This is the route we’ve taken because, frankly, it’s all we can afford at this point,” the school board chair said. “We are doing what we have to do to protect our students and our staff.”
Attorney general spokesman Michael Kelly said previously called the district’s plan to arm 50 out of its 700 school employees “troubling.” (RELATED: Virginia Government Officials Not Happy With First School District To Arm Teachers)
Virginia “clearly prohibits guns in schools” in almost every case, Kelly said.
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