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Teachers get tee-ball bats to protect students in Eastern Washington district

Instead of arming teachers with guns, a school district in Eastern Washington chose to arm its educators with bats.
Teachers in the Dayton School District practiced their swings with Jon Ladines, instructor with Forced Dynamics. The former state trooper and Richland police officer trained educators to use tee-ball bats to defend against potential active shooters.

An Eastern Washington school district is the latest to arm its teachers, but the district isn’t issuing any guns. The teachers are getting tee-ball bats.

“Under stress, almost everyone can swing a stick,” said John Ladines, owner of Force Dynamics.

Ladines spent an afternoon last week in the Dayton School District letting teachers swing away at him after he walked into their rooms. He held a padded barrier to protect himself.

His organization has trained staff at more than 50 churches, community centers, and schools to use tee-ball bats to take out an active shooter.

That number is climbing.

“My email and phone is ringing off the hook,” said Ladines.

Ladines, a former Washington State Patrol trooper and Richland police officer, has also trained educators at four Central Washington schools to use handguns on campus. But he said a bat can be more effective and more comfortable for educators who may not want a handgun.

Ladines teaches the staff to use the bats after taking cover in their classrooms. He said by blocking the entryway of the class with desks, the shooter will be distracted when they walk in, making them vulnerable.

“We’re looking at that very small window of opportunity,” said Ladines, “Law enforcement calls it the fatal funnel. They don’t know what’s on the other side of the door.”

State Superintendent Chris Reykdal said he’d rather see teachers have bats than handguns but believes security decisions are best left up to local districts.

The state’s teacher’s union, the Washington Education Association, equates giving teachers bats with handing out firearms. The union does not think teachers should have any weapons.

Rich Wood, the spokesperson for the union, said the responsibility for preventing gun violence should not fall on teachers.

“Solving the epidemic of gun violence in our country is way more complicated than giving teachers baseball bats or guns,” said Wood.

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