Georgia school system to let some non-officers carry guns

Jul 14, 2022, 6:57 AM | Updated: 7:49 pm

FILE -A Cobb County School bus moves on street Friday, March 13, 2020, in Kennesaw, Ga. Georgia's s...

FILE -A Cobb County School bus moves on street Friday, March 13, 2020, in Kennesaw, Ga. Georgia's second-largest school district on Thursday, July 14, 2022 approved a policy allowing some employees who aren't certified police officers carry guns in schools, but excluded teachers from those who can be armed. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

(AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s second-largest school district on Thursday approved a policy allowing some employees who aren’t certified police officers carry guns in schools, but excluded teachers from those who can be armed.

The 4-2 vote by suburban Atlanta’s Cobb County school board split along partisan lines as opponents including gun control activists shouted “Delay the vote!” and “Shame!”

Georgia schools have been able to arm teachers and other personnel under a state law passed in 2014. After a 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, a handful of Georgia’s 180 districts, all with much lower enrollments, had approved policies to arm non-officers on campus. The move in the 106,000-student Cobb school district, one of the nation’s 25 largest, is explicitly a response to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that killed 19 students and two teachers last May.

Cobb County Superintendent Chris Ragsdale told board members before the vote that the district only has 67 officers currently for its 114 schools, and that competition to hire police officers is intense.

“If the board gave me a blank check and said go hire a school resource officer for every school in Cobb County, I could not do that,” Ragsdale said.

The policy would have originally allowed teachers to be approved to carry weapons if they had “unique qualifications,” but Ragsdale removed that part of the proposal. Teachers would not be allowed to carry guns.

“I am not in favor of arming teachers. However I am in favor of investigating all options so we could hire retired military, retired law enforcement,” Ragsdale said.

Ragsdale discussed hiring such people and paying them less than certified police officers. But it remained unclear whether the district intends for everyone authorized to carry a gun to be a full-time security employee, or whether the district might also authorize employees who primarily have other duties. A school district spokesperson did not respond to emails and a phone call and a text seeking comment.

The policy says that people would have to be trained, and Ragsdale pledged that they would undergo much the same training as certified school resource officers. He said there would also by a psychological evaluation and that school district Police Chief Ron Storey would get final say on approvals. As per state law, no employee could be penalized for refusing to carry a gun. Their names and all other records would be kept secret.

“On a need to know basis, everyone who needs to know who these individuals are is going to know who they are,” Ragsdale said.

Guns would have to be concealed on the body or secured in a locked safe.

But opponents were not persuaded. Cobb’s school board is sharply split, with four white Republicans and three Black Democrats. One of those Democrats, Jaha Howard, said there was no proof the plan would work

“I have yet to see any data or evidence that more gun-carrying professionals means our kids or staff will be safer,” Howard said. He later tried to postpone the vote until the board’s late August meeting. School starts in Cobb County on Aug. 1.

Alisha Thomas Searcy, who beat Howard and others to become the Democratic nominee for state superintendent of schools in November, echoed Howard’s criticism. She said she opposed anyone but certified police officers being armed in schools.

“As a parent, the last thing I want to think about is more guns at my daughter’s school or any other type school,” she said during a public comment period. “I certainly agree that there’s a need for more caring adults in our school, but not ones who carry guns and aren’t police officers.”

Opponent Charles Cole said the policy was poorly drafted.

“I think it’s dangerous, rash and vastly, wrongly open-ended. ‘Let’s get more guns in schools and we might add some specifics later,’ is not the way we should operate,” Cole said, adding “our children deserve more forethought.”

Those opponents began chanting “Delay the vote!” and prompted a board recess. When the board returned, the four Republicans rejected Howard’s proposed delay and pushed through the measure even as chanting continued.


An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated when Georgia passed a law allowing non-officers to be armed in schools. It was in 2014.


Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


biden crisis averted...

Zeke Miller and Chris Megerian

Biden celebrates a ‘crisis averted’ in Oval Office address on bipartisan debt ceiling deal

President Joe Biden celebrated a “crisis averted” in his first speech to the nation from the Oval Office Friday evening.

2 days ago

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age and Competition, ...

Associated Press

US, Europe working on voluntary AI code of conduct as calls grow for regulation

The United States and Europe are drawing up a voluntary code of conduct for artificial intelligence as the developing technology triggers warnings

2 days ago

FILE - Idaho Attorney General candidate Rep. Raul Labrador speaks during the Idaho Republican Party...

Associated Press

Families sue to block Idaho law barring gender-affirming care for minors

The families of two transgender teenagers filed a lawsuit Thursday to block enforcement of Idaho's ban on gender-affirming medical care for minors.

3 days ago

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission alleg...

Associated Press

Amazon fined $25M for violating child privacy with Alexa

Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations it violated a child privacy law

3 days ago

FILE - Candles are lit on a memorial wall during an anniversary memorial service at the Holy Trinit...

Associated Press

Pain and terror felt by passengers before Boeing Max crashed can be considered, judge rules

Families of passengers who died in the crash of a Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia can seek damages for the pain and terror suffered by victims in the minutes before the plane flew nose-down into the ground, a federal judge has ruled.

4 days ago

OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT and creator of OpenAI speaks at University College ...

Associated Press

Artificial intelligence threatens extinction, experts say in new warning

Scientists and tech industry leaders issued a new warning Tuesday about the perils that artificial intelligence poses to humankind.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Georgia school system to let some non-officers carry guns