Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen appeared on the KGVO Talk Back show on Friday to promote her School Safety Summit scheduled for Monday, January 7 in the State Capitol building.

Arntzen said a number of local school superintendents will be on hand to discuss matters of school safety. One of the guests will be Superintendent Dave Perkins of Custer schools in Yellowstone County, just one of the few schools in the state that allows school personnel to carry firearms.

“We’ll have Superintendent Perkins from Custer,” said Arntzen. “Superintendent Perkins is following our state law that’s been on the books for over 21 years, and their school is armed. They are following the law. They’ve gone through an intense community discussion, and he’s going to share with legislators what it’s like to have himself and other teachers be armed.”

Arntzen said her number one issue will be the Student Safety Accountability Act.

“I’ve been the superintendent for two years, now,” she said. “We went back five years and there have been a total of nine suspensions or revocations because of inappropriate or illicit sexual activity. Seven of those nine have occurred in my term in the last two years. There have been more complaints than we have ever had on record before, so to weed out those pedophiles, to weed out the predators is what we are attempting to do.”

To describe the problem in Montana’s schools, Arntzen uses a word that many officials rarely allow themselves to use in a public setting; evil.

I believe that in all of our communities there is evil,” she said. “I just don’t want it within our school buildings or our school communities. We just hope that (the legislation) will put a stop to what’s occurring and hoping that within our teaching profession that our educators will also step up and say ‘this will not happen’, because our students are who we put first.”

The School Safety Summit is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Monday and will be streamed live on the OPI website.

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