BATESVILLE, Ark.- The Batesville School District will allow staff to carry guns this upcoming school year.  The move is in an effort to ensure the safety of the students and the staff in the event of an active shooter situation.

“Having a gun on a school campus, that’s serious stuff,” says Jennifer Pitts.  

Pitts has two children in the Batesville schools.  She feels like the district’s decision to arm teachers came out of the blue.

“I keep an eye on this issue and it surprised me,” says Pitts.

The district plans to arm staff members on campus to act as special deputies if there’s an emergency. 

Superintendent Michael Hester says the candidates will have to complete 110 hours of training, tests, certifications and go through intense physical and psychological evaluations before they are even considered.

“It’s not like a staff member shows up and says they want to carry,” says Hester.  “They have to go through all the rigor of a county deputy.”

Hester says it’s sad that it’s come to this, but it’s all in the name of safety.

“We think putting the appropriate weapons in the appropriate hands is the best answer we can come up with at this point,” says Hester.

Some parents like Pitts, however, are uncomfortable with the idea.  She’s hoping for another option or at least more discussion.

“I really believe what we need to do is give teachers the room to do what they do best which is to provide a nurturing environment for our kids and not pull double duty as a security guard,” says Pitts. 

The staff chosen will carry concealed.  Hester says there are three school resource officers and the plan is to also have special deputies in every building in the district.