MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A copy of a memo has been released regarding the arming of Alabama school administrators.
State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey sent the letter to school superintendents across the state Friday. In it he lays out a suggested process to superintendents regarding the Alabama Sentry Program.
That program permits an authorized, certified school administrator in a school without a full-time school resource officer the authority to use lethal force to defend the school from an armed intruder. The local school board determines which school administrator is authorized, and that person can then voluntarily seek permission from their superintendent and the county sheriff to be armed.
Mackey's suggested process includes 11 points, among them that the local school board should decide if they want to participate in the program. If the board does want to move forward, Mackey suggests they come to an agreement with their county sheriff's office where the administrator would be appointed as a reserve deputy sheriff.
The memo states that it should be the sheriff's office that should determine the fitness of the candidate before referring them to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
ALEA would be responsible for notifying the candidate of training opportunities and requirements.
Finally, Mackey's memo indicates any needed equipment, such as a firearm or bulletproof vest, would be the responsibility of the local school board.
Mackey's memo was sent to school systems with a 48-hour embargo to the media. An education department official expressed surprise to discover media outlets had obtained a copy and said the embargo was an effort to give superintendents two days to look at the material before being asked questions.
Reached for comment, Supt. Mackey said the Alabama State Department of Education will offer any logistical support to local systems implementing their safety plans.
"The Sentry program might be a part of that plan for some of them, but we are receiving more inquiries on building security, cameras, and threat assessment training right now," Mackey said. "We are working with the SAFE council on all of these."
The superintendent added that the ALSDE has conducted a full survey and knows that "many more security officers have been assigned to local schools for the upcoming school year."
"We have been clear from the outset that our ultimate goal would be to have security officers in place, but the Sentry program offers an additional option for local communities, and we want to facilitate options rather than raising impediments," Mackey explained. "Certainly, a full time — or for that matter even shared SRO — is an excellent resource that any local school would want to access if possible. Our major issue, obviously, is that this resource is not yet an option in every community."
The full memo reads: