Published February 2, 2016 by Annie Chang (NewsOn6)
OKAY, OK – Okay Public Schools in Wagoner County could be setting a new trend with its policy on firearms.
The district now allows teachers and staff members to legally carry guns on school grounds. It is one of the first school systems in the state to do so.
About 400 students attend Okay Elementary, Junior High and High School.
Superintendent Charles McMahan spoke exclusively with News On 6, saying small districts like his don’t have the luxury of having campus police officers.
In fact, only one Wagoner County Sheriff’s deputy patrols the entire town of Okay.
“If something were to ever happen and I didn’t try to defend my kids, I couldn’t live with that,” McMahan says. “That’s kind of why we put this in place.”
The district installed four brand-new signs around campus, all of which read, “Please be aware that certain staff members at Okay Public Schools can be legally armed and may use whatever force is necessary to protect our students.”
The point, McMahan says, is to scare off unwanted visitors — those who want to do harm.
“Hopefully, that will never take place,” he says. “But if it saves a life, it saves a life.”
McMahan says the feedback has been largely positive so far. News On 6 spoke with several parents and grandparents, all of whom were on board with the new policy.
“Our kids need to be safe here on campus because we are such a rural area,” explains Lucretia Echols, grandmother to three Okay students. “Law enforcement is so far away.”
Robert Weller, who has a grandson at Okay Junior High, agrees, “If someone wants to come in and start shooting, someone should be able to interrupt it.”
The district started drafting the firearm policy last summer based on Oklahoma House Bill 2014.
As it stands, teachers and staff who want to bring guns on campus must first be approved by the school board, go through rigorous armed security training and pass several tests per year.Follow @FortySixNews