With public schools opening soon for the new school year, Gov. Kay Ivey and her legal team are defending a program that allows administrators gun access in schools lacking full-time school resource officers.

Some parents and teachers said the new rule puts too much responsibility into administrators’ hands.

Alabama has been home to five school shootings over the past three years, and the U.S. has seen dozens around the country.

Earlier this year, Ivey announced an initiative called the School Sentry Program aimed at protecting children in school.

The program is specifically for schools without a dedicated resource officer, and on Friday State Superintendent Eric Mackey sent a memo to schools across the state emphasizing that the program is voluntary.

Schools who sign up would be trained by state police and their local sheriff’s office, and the sheriff has final say in whether or not any administrator could be deputized as a reserve deputy.

But some parents aren’t thrilled about the proposition.

“It shouldn’t even be an option,” said parent Que Chandler. “If the schools don’t have the proper resources we need to find funds and resources available instead of putting that pressure on teachers. If they don’t have those particular resources then that’s what they should be focused on.”

The Tuscaloosa County and Tuscaloosa City School Systems have school resource officers in each high school, and several others who travel between the district’s middle and elementary schools. In Tuscaloosa County, those resource officers are members of the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. In the city, they are members of the Tuscaloosa Police Department.

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