On the afternoon of Aug. 25, Beth Dixon, a 63-year-old teacher at Cumberland Valley Christian School, used a single-unit, unisex bathroom. She detached her loaded gun, still in its holster, and left it on the top of the ceramic tank, according to Pennsylvania state police.
The Chambersburg, Pa., Christian school is affiliated with a local church. It is a small school, with about 400 students, ranging from kindergartners through high school seniors. Four of those students — all in elementary school, between the ages of 6 and 8 — used the bathroom after Dixon. The fourth child told a parent he had seen the gun, who in turn told another teacher at the school.
Police say it was then that “Dixon remembered leaving the pistol in the restroom,” per the troopers’ statement as reported by the Chambersburg Public Opinion. There were no injuries resulting from the incident.
Guns on school campuses, either publicly funded or licensed by the state, are a murky issue in Pennsylvania. They are illegal unless they are possessed for a “lawful purpose“; during a 2014 proposal to explicitly allow teachers to arm themselves, proponents of the legislation noted that in rural Pennsylvania counties, police are often assigned to large areas. Others countered that an influx of guns into schools could make the environment potentially more dangerous.
In the United States, as The Post reported in 2014, almost 20 states have laws expressly permitting licensed adults to carry guns in schools.
Cumberland Valley Christian School did not previously take an official stance on armed teachers. “Our policy now is this: We are asking no weapons, no guns, unless they are approved by administration,” Mike Sanders, the school president, told the Public Opinion. The Associated Press reports that the school board, which will meet Sept. 19, must vote to approve that policy.
Dixon told a school administrator that she had forgotten the gun, and she offered to resign. The school accepted her resignation the next day. Dixon faces charges of endangering children’s welfare and reckless endangerment.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated where guns are legal on school campuses. It is almost 20 states, not 20 schools.