School Climate & Safety

Residents Seek Recall of School Board Chairman Who Proposed Arming Teachers

By Evie Blad — December 30, 2013 1 min read

Voters in Idaho’s 3,600-student Lake Pend Oreille district have collected enough signatures to stage a recall election for the chairman of the district’s school board after he proposed arming some school staff, including teachers, as part of the district’s security measures.

After receiving formal notice of the recall effort, Chairman Steve Youngdahl will have five days to resign his position or face a possible recall in a March 11 election, the Associated Press reported.

Youngdahl triggered a community debate last fall when he proposed placing guns in secure locations inside schools and training some teachers, administrators, and other employees to use them in case of a school shooting."

Schools around the country explored similar measures as they evaluated their security following the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Administrators in some districts have passionately defended such efforts, even as they faced legal obstacles.

The Lake Pend Oreille district’s website includes a letter to parents, detailing recent security upgrades. They include efforts to shorten response time by emergency personnel, to find funding for a school resource officer, to conduct a “security audit” in each building, and to develop a standard protocol for building-level security teams.

It will be interesting to see if the recent shooting at Arapahoe High School in Colorado stirs up some conversations about school security that have settled somewhat since Newtown.

It’s evident from the Idaho recall effort that though parents, school board members, and school administrators typically share a goal of keeping students safe, they don’t always agree on the best ways to do that.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.