Arming school staff in Iowa passes the legislature and is signed by Governor Kim Reynolds.  The public has questions and IFC is here to help answer them.

Question 1:  [Regarding HF2586] I see Council Bluffs schools is saying they have no intention of arming their staff. My question is, is it up to the school board to give permission to the schools or teachers or are teachers and staff welcome to go ahead and start the process of getting their professional permits and carrying in school since the law took effect immediately?

Answer:  [Sir,] it has always been the law that “A person who has been specifically authorized by the school to go armed with, carry, or transport a firearm on the school grounds for any lawful purpose” [724.4B(2)(a)] is exempt from the general prohibition on carrying or possessing a firearm at a school. The question is, WHO can make that authorization “by the school”? Presumably, the school’s principal or acting principal could authorize anyone with a (nonprofessional) permit to carry weapons to carry at a school. However, in a public school system, it seems unlikely that a principal – or even a superintendent – would do so without specific authorization from the school board. In any case, a school board could certainly rescind any such authorization if it wished.

As to the new law, it provides for a professional permit to carry to be issued to school employees. While the statute does not require authorization from a school in order to apply for such a permit, in practice it is very unlikely that any school employees will seek out the extensive training that will be required to attain and maintain certification for that permit. This is because the purpose of the specialized training for this professional permit is to allow schools and their AUTHORIZED armed employees to be granted qualified immunity from liability for the reasonable use of force used in the course of employment by the school. (Any law enforcement officer using force in response to a “situation” at a school has such qualified immunity. “Qualified” here means that there is a presumption of immunity from liability, but that presumption may be rebutted by evidence.)

While the law is currently in effect, the statute requires that the Iowa Department of Public Safety will design a curriculum for initial and recurrent training and certify trainers for this special permit. Thus the availability of the training and permits is months away – at least.

Question 2:  Lewis Central schools is saying they tried to arm a security guard and their insurance said they would be dropped if they allowed him to carry. Is there an answer for this? Would this law also pertain to teachers in daycares?

Answer:  The company that has a virtual monopoly on public school insurance in Iowa has refused to cover schools that arm existing staff, including teachers. However, it is my understanding that the Des Moines Public Schools now employ their own “Security Officers”, after ending the previous arrangement with DM Police Dept. for SROs. It is my understanding that these security officers are armed, but that may not be correct. I don’t know.

As I said in the comment above, the whole point of the professional permit and specialized training for armed school employees is to be able to grant qualified immunity to schools and their armed staff. It is hoped that doing so will bring new insurers into the market for coverage in Iowa, if not convince EMC to change its policy in this regard.

As to teachers and other staff at daycare facilities, they are not prohibited by Iowa law from being armed, including with firearms – UNLESS they are on school property. The prohibition in Iowa law applies to the property of public AND private schools, grades pre-K to 12.

Thanks to IFC Board Member, Richard Rogers, for the responses!

-In Libertatem