Illinois superintendent becomes police officer so she can carry a gun in her school
© Getty Images

A school superintendent in Illinois carried a concealed weapon to school for the first time last week, after completing police academy training to her protect her students against a school shooter.

Julie Kraemer, superintendent of the 320-student rural Hutsonville, Ill., school district, has been an educator for 20 years. Kraemer told Time magazine that she was motivated to become a law enforcement officer amid rising concerns about school shootings.


“If somebody comes in to try to hurt my kids, we have something other than a stapler to throw at them. We’re no longer a soft target. We have some options,” the 51-year-old educator said. “I’m just going to be a superintendent that happens to also be a police officer. ... I have to be able to protect my kids.”

Kraemer’s district did not have the budget to hire a full-time school resource officer, according to Time.

She began her training last year after one student at a neighboring high school was shot by a peer in the cafeteria. A teacher disarmed the student in that shooting, which took place three months before the Parkland, Fla., school shooting.

“I think sometimes we sit back and think it’ll never happen here, it’ll never happen to us, it’s states away,” Kraemer told Time. “But that was really close to home.”

Kraemer previously had a concealed carry license before she began her law enforcement training, but said she thinks police training should be “essential” if educators want to carry weapons on a school campus.

The national discussion on school safety has intensified in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Trump administration officials have expressed support for arming teachers, drawing criticism from Democrats and gun-safety advocates, many of whom called for stronger gun control laws.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosDeVos calls Democratic presidential hopeful's education plans 'crazy' What the next Education secretary must do Duke-UNC v. DOE: Riding a wave of mutual antagonism MORE, who led President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash CNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview MORE’s Federal Commission on School Safety, said earlier this year that the panel would not look at the role of firearms in gun violence at schools.

Chuck Doan, director of the Southern Illinois Criminal Justice Training Program, told Time that Kraemer is the first educator he has seen undergo the training for the purpose of school safety.

“Although I think it’s kind of a sad state of affairs, it’s important that we have people in our schools who can make a police response when necessary, whether that’s in the form of a police officer assigned by the department or someone like Julie,” Doan said.