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Teachers back in classroom in Arkansas school district, without their guns

In this photo taken July 11, 2013, a firearms instructor, right, guides a Clarksville school teacher during a training session at the city's high school in Clarksville, Ark.
AP Photo/Danny Johnston

It's back to school Monday for the students of Clarksville, Ark., although their teachers will not be carrying guns in the classrooms as was previously planned.

Twenty teachers and staff had volunteered over the summer to be trained to carry concealed weapons during the school day.

"What we wanted was that covert, armed group that was ready to respond, that really was kind of a psychological deterrent for anybody that would come on our campus," said Clarksville school district superintendent David Hopkins, in a telephone interview with

Other school districts in Arkansas have been allowed to license their staff to carry weapons. But in a surprising turn of events last week, a regulatory panel blocked the schools in Clarksville from arming teachers and staff as volunteer security guards.

In an earlier interview this month with, Hopkins said the idea of arming school teachers came after the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut in December 2012.

In this photo taken on July 11, 2013, a Clarksville Schools faculty member, top right, carries an air-powered practice handgun to a classroom as firearms instructors, left, watch and students, lying on the floor, portray victims during a training exercise in Clarksville, Ark.
AP Photo/Danny Johnston

"We were just trying to put meaningful security in these buildings. We didn't want it to be overt; we didn't want it to be something that smothered our kids," said Hopkins.

The reversal came after Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said in a legal opinion that the board was wrong to issue licenses to school districts designating them as private security firms so they could arm teachers and staff.

Hopkins said that the teachers and staff trained were upset at the reversal of the licensing decision. The volunteers had been given $1,100 each to buy a 9mm weapon, holster and other items.

"They're very disappointed because they were committed, they were on a mission. They felt like what they were doing was the right thing," said Hopkins.

Hopkins said he wanted to arm staff so a potential shooter would be deterred by thinking, "'if I go into that building, I know they got people who are armed in there, I don't know how many and I don't know where they are and who they are.'"

"Unfortunately, we're still no better off than we ever were," said Hopkins, adding that he would appeal the decision.

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    Jessica Hartogs is a news editor for You can find her on Twitter: @jessicahartogs