More Texas school districts continue to weigh safety options to become better prepared in the event of intruders, active shooters, and other potentially deadly campus threats.
The Nocona Independent School District recently adopted a Guardian plan, training administrators and teachers to conceal and carry. This program appeals to remote, small school districts that do not always have immediate access to a local police force or nearby first responders. This Texoma-area rural school district enrolls slightly less than 800 students across three campuses, an elementary, middle, and high school. On Tuesday, several parents voiced support for the plan.
Parent David Armstrong told KAUZ: “If the teacher is qualified with the weapon and they are licensed and they know how to use it, and when they should and shouldn’t use it, I think it’s a good idea and could keep students safe.”
Another parent, Tyler Thomas, ascribed to the theory that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun. “If teachers are comfortable and have the right training and certification, then I am all for it.”
Nocona is the fifth district in Montague County to introduce guardians. The other schools are in Gold-Burg, St. Jo, Montague, and Prairie Valley. Breitbart Texas reported that Harrold ISD Superintendent David Thweatt created the Guardian plan in 2007 after a rash of school shootings, including the massacre at Virginia Tech where 32 died.
In March, Mineola ISD updated safety and security measures for its nearly 1,625 students. Two years ago, the East Texas school district implemented the Standard Response Protocol. This measure uses a “lockout, lockdown, evacuate, and shelter” approach to campus threats. In 2017, the district increased police presence on its four campuses. Officials also began to review facility site vulnerabilities and looked into architectural costs for redesigning facility entrances to create more secure entryways.
Next year, Minneola ISD proposes adding ALICE Active Shooter Training, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. This program simulates active school shooter scenarios that teach students strategies to better handle potentially life-threatening situations. School district officials say they will roll out COP Sync 911, an internet tool that instantly connects classrooms to police officers. Teachers can silently summon law enforcement officers in the event of an emergency. Minneola ISD intends to provide Stop-It App to students in grades three through 12 so they can anonymously report suspicious campus activity. Other future safety measures may include a Crime Stoppers program, more campus police, and guardians.
In North Texas, Stephenville ISD is considering whether they will choose a Guardian or Marshal plan. The latter permits concealed handguns on otherwise “gun free” public school campuses under the 2013 Protection of Texas Children Act. Marshals undergo intensive police-style training. Marshals as well as guardians must keep handguns in a lock box when students are in their offices or classrooms.
Last week, Cleveland ISD Police Chief Police Chief Rex Evans held a press conference and told reporters that Crime Stoppers gifted the suburban Houston school district 1,000 Bearacade door-stoppers, a passive countermeasure he feels will put them one step ahead in the event of an active shooter situation.
Steven Squire, a deputy with the Montgomery County Sheriffs Office, explained the device weighs less than two pounds and works by slipping it under the bottom of a door and dropping an attached metal pin into a hole in the floor which, essentially, deadbolts the door. He said the device can be installed in three to five seconds.
“There is a lot of focus and attention on active shooters in school environments,” said Evans. He announced the district will hold its next active shooter drill at the high school on August 8. Cleveland ISD police will invite more students, faculty and staff, and local law enforcement agencies to participate.
“I believe that, especially at our high school level, it’s imperative to teach our kids with how to respond to such a critical incident and maintain some semblance of composure,” said Evans. He stated it is equally important for teens to understand the dynamics of “run, hide, and fight.” Evans underscored, “Sometimes, sadly, those are your three options.”
The Police Chief did not foresee the reality of school shootings going away. He commented, “The best thing we can do is come up with plans to mitigate any type of damage, injury, or death that can be inflicted.”
Evans said Cleveland ISD will add officers to its police force. The district already participates in the Standard Response Protocol. Breitbart Texas reported that this measure uses a “lockout, lockdown, evacuate, and shelter” approach to campus threats. Each command word directs an action designed to maintain student and staff safety.
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