CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A National Rifle Association-backed task force released its plan to keep the nation's schools safe Tuesday -- including a proposal for arming school employees or adding armed guards to schools.
Other proposals include increasing building safety and beefing up mental health services in the name of "threat assessment." But the report emphasizes that those factors are not adequate on their own -- adding firearms to schools, it says, is integral to school safety.
That proposal drew sharp criticism from some people in the education community, on a national and state level.
Christine Campbell, president-elect of the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, echoed the statement from the national group, saying that the call for armed guards in schools serves only to distract from the issues at the heart of school violence.
"The focus needs to be more on the community solutions," she said. "We need to have discussions within the community on where they feel like they could build awareness of safety."
Some West Virginia schools still don't have secure entrances, though that is changing -- over the past several years about $30 million has been distributed to local school districts to make school access safer.
"Before we go moving in this kind of heightened direction, we need to make sure that the things that are already in place in a lot of schools are in place in all schools," Campbell said.
In Kanawha County, police officers regularly visit schools. Each "resource officer" is employed by the Sheriff's Office and receives additional training specific to his or her role in schools. There are three school resource officers in Kanawha County: one spends all of his time at Riverside High School while two more rotate among the county's other schools.