An Ohio school district is facing criticism amid reports that a pair of first graders accessed a gun stored on campus, taking and removing the weapon from its unlocked case.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, the incident occurred in March at a district transportation office near Highland Elementary School in South Bloomfield Township but only recently came to light. No one was injured.
The district’s transportation director, Vicky Nelson, had taken her grandson with her to the office that day. The boy was accompanied by the daughter of another employee, assistant transportation director Christine Scaffidi, when things took a very dangerous turn.
The newspaper reported that Nelson is part of the district’s concealed carry program, which allows employees to have firearms on school grounds. The program was launched last year in an effort to protect students in the case of an active shooter.
Nelson reportedly stepped away from her desk to use the restroom and returned to find her gun out of its case and sitting on her desk. The two children were still in the room.
“I’m assuming that the child picked up the gun from behind the desk and had been holding it,” Superintendent Dan Freund told the newspaper, adding that he became “physically sick” after learning of the incident.
Freund said other officials were equally “horrified” by the close call, which has reportedly divided the community over whether it’s best to arm teachers. A firearms trainer with a local sheriff’s office who helped to train teachers in the district’s concealed carry program said that what happened at Nelson’s office “wasn’t consistent with the training provided, the policies and procedures or the conditions of being on the [concealed carry] team.”
“That’s a big no-no. It’s inexcusable,” he added.
After the incident, Nelson was booted from the firearms program and given a three-day suspension without pay.
The district’s concealed carry program is now under review.