Area School Districts Consider Arming Teachers

BELL COUNTY (January 30, 2013) --- Classroom security is a priority issue for state lawmakers and local districts, as officials consider ways to make schools safer in the wake of the deadly shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and among the options some districts are considering is arming teachers.

On Tuesday the Temple ISD Board of Trustees met to look at what some of the other schools in the area are doing.

The Gatesville and Academy school districts have also looked into security measures including the possibility of arming teachers.

Temple school officials say they won’t be taking any immediate steps to arm teachers, but will instead wait to see if lawmakers in Austin provide guidance on the issue.

"We already have trained police officers who are in our schools so we're at a great advantage compared to some of the smaller school districts who don't have that option," TISD Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Scott Moger said.

Several rural districts that lack funding for campus officers and that can’t count on the same quick law enforcement response as districts in urban areas have adopted teacher firearm policies including the Harrold ISD and the Union Grove ISD.

Adam Fitzer, who owns Texas Weapon Instructors, said his company will be training teachers in the Jonesboro ISD after the district adopted a policy allowing some teachers to carry guns in classrooms.

"We were involved in initial talks and once they did pass the rule so now we're going to be the company training them and they're not arming every teacher which is a good thing, but they are going to have a group of armed teachers which will be doing continual training over the next year," Fitzer said.

Harrold ISD's firearm policy, called the Guardian Plan, was adopted in 2007.

"Our Guardian Plan is four components and they have to have a (concealed handgun license) and then they're approved by the local school board, the third element is that they have to undergo some extra training, the fourth is they use frangible ammunition; which is ammunition that breaks apart when it hits a hard object so it minimizes ricochet effect," Harrold ISD Superintendent David Thweatt said.

Because the Harrold ISD was the first district to adopt a firearm policy for teachers in Texas, lawmakers are looking at the Guardian Plan for information.

"What I've been talking with the Legislature about is coming up with a standard, a certification process for training on top of concealed handgun to give the districts who want to pass a policy similar to ours some tools to work with so they can send their teachers or their employees off to get that extra training and have a certification process in mind," Thweatt said.

The change in security in schools is one many parents, teachers, and even security experts like Fitzer say they're ready to consider in light of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

"It was sad and it was wrong and there are things that could have been done to avoid it but we don't live in the same world we did 30 years ago things keep getting worse so things have to change," Fitzer said.


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