A small school district in the Texas Hill Country placed a sign that gives would-be troublemakers something to think about if they contemplate harming any students on campus.
“Attention,” the sign reads. “Please be aware that the staff at Medina ISD may be armed and will use whatever force is necessary to protect our students.”
Last week, school officials put up the sign in front of the Medina Independent School District tucked away in the Hill Country, nearly 70 miles from San Antonio. The nearest town, Bandera, is roughly 30 minutes away.
Medina ISD houses a total of 303 students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 on one campus. The Bandera Bulletin posted about the sign on Facebook last Thursday. At press time, that post surpassed 5,265 shares and had over 440 comments. Of the 3,700 reactions it got, only two were “angry” and one was a “sad” face.
Most feedback to the sign has been largely positive. Parent Jillian Sides, who has two children enrolled on the campus, told KSAT: “Schools have been a target for, for lack of a better word, crazy people, and I’m perfectly fine with it.”
Another Medina ISD parent expressed mixed feelings, saying: “I don’t know if that’s asking for trouble or not. I mean, you post a sign like that, it may bring trouble.”
Superintendent Penny White, whose son attends the school district, told KENS they installed the sign in the hopes to make a potential perpetrator “think twice” so as not to harm Medina ISD students.
“I think that anybody who might have a thought about harming someone in mind might think twice about it,” she said.
White says student safety is the school district’s top priority. Medina ISD officials will add two more signs, one at each of the other campus entrances.
“You never know if there’s a transient or someone who has zeroed in on harming a child,” she told KSAT. White hopes the sign will serve as a deterrent for other kinds of violence whether it be a potential school shooting or possible volatile situations involving troubled parents undergoing divorces or families in crisis who bring their child custody battles to campus.
The Medina ISD board of trustees decided to put up the sign after almost a year of discussion on the topic, White commented. She and board member Dr. James Lindstrom voiced there was no specific event which prompted the conversation or the signage. Lindstrom cited “the general environment nationally.”
However, if Medina ISD teachers are actually armed remains an unanswered question. White said: “We don’t divulge anything about our safety plan, because it would compromise the plan.”
The 2013 Protection of Texas Children Act permits concealed handguns on otherwise “gun free” public school campuses in a marshal plan. Authored by Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas), this program allows trained teachers to keep a firearm in a lockbox within immediate reach. A school board can instead appoint one armed marshal per 400 students, although, this plan does not apply to schools with less than 400 students.
A similar 2007 guardian plan authorizes trained teachers to conceal and carry in smaller school districts. Breitbart Texas reported these programs appeal to remote rural districts where they do not have a police force or close proximity to one. In 2014, around 70 school districts enacted guardian plans.
Regardless of size, many Texas school districts have security cameras throughout their facilities, including some with lock-door systems. Larger districts also often have on-campus police or school resource officers.
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