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Lawmakers compel board chief to explain vote to arm school staff

A legislative panel agreed last Thursday to issue a subpoena to compel the head of a state board that allowed a limited number of public schools to arm teachers and staff to testify before lawmakers.

Members of the House and Senate judiciary committees acted after members of the state Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies twice failed to show up when directed by the committee to answer questions about their decision.

The joint panel agreed to subpoena Jack Acre of Little Rock to appear before committee members on Jan. 9. Acre was a member of the state board, but not the chairman, when it voted Sept. 11 to allow up to 13 Arkansas school districts, but no others, to train teachers and staff to serve as armed security guards.

Acre, who has since replaced the chairman at the time, Ralph Sims, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.

The board ruled in September after Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said in an Aug. 1 opinion that he did not believe the board could legally authorize school districts to use employees as armed guards, though they could enter into contracts with security agencies.

The board had already authorized 13 districts to train and arm employees before McDaniel issued his non-binding opinion. In a compromise of sorts, the board voted to allow those 13 districts to use already trained employees as guards for two years but not to accept new applications from other districts.

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