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Hall County considering allowing one employee to carry weapon in district
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Penny Kerns, Kameelah Monroe, Charlene Young and Nancy Sykes leave work at the Hall County School District's central office in January 2016. Superintendent Will Schofield is proposing a policy that would allow one designated employee — and only one employee — to carry a weapon while working in the district. Schofield said the policy would particularly help security at the district office. - photo by Erin O. Smith

A proposed Hall County School District policy would allow one designated employee — and only one employee — to carry a weapon while working in the district.

Superintendent Will Schofield introduced the proposed policy at a school board meeting Monday night, saying he would designate Andy Betancourt, the district’s safety and security assistant, as the employee who is allowed to carry a weapon in the district. Betancourt worked for 30 years with the Miami Police Department before retiring.

Schofield said the policy would particularly help security at the district office at 711 Green St. in Gainesville.

“We’ve already got SROs (School Resource Officers through the Hall County Sheriff’s Office) at our campuses, in terms of middle school and high schools,” Schofield said. “When there’s problem in the school, often it ends up here. We end up with significant numbers of volatile people here on a daily basis, and the fact that we have a 30-year Miami Police officer who is in this building for security, it just makes sense for us, in this particular instance, for him to be carrying a weapon.”

Schofield said state law allows school districts to designate employees who can carry weapons on school grounds, but added that he doesn’t see the policy expanding to other employees.

“This is for one and one employee only,” Schofield told the board. “We believe only trained people ought to have guns in schools.”

The policy will be brought back to the school board next month for consideration and possible approval. Schofield said the policy will likely be tweaked before that to designate Betancourt by name in the policy as the one to carry a weapon and allow the superintendent to revoke it at any time.

“Based on his background and his 30 years with the Miami Police Department, I am just very pleased that he will be carrying a weapon in this building,” Schofield said of Betancourt.

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