East Central ISD board to consider arming employees

November 14, 2018

East Central Independent School District board members will discuss joining a program that allows for arming school staffers when it meets tonight.

A committee of about 20 community members who researched the state’s “guardian plan,” which allows school boards to authorize training standards for employees who participate, will present its recommendations in executive session, Board President Steve Bryant said.

Bryant said the board might take “some action” but said he does not anticipate appointing staffers to the program at tonight’s meeting, though the agenda allows for such a vote.

Bryant said the board would need to have policies in place before approving participants.

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The guardian plan is the more flexible of two options school districts have for arming employees. It allows school boards to determine training standards. The other allows boards to authorize employees to be school “marshals” but requires licensing by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement after a minimum amount of training.

Bryant said he favors a training program more stringent than that offered under the marshal program and wants staffers to be able to carry their weapons, rather than have them available in a particular location.

He said parents are expected to address the board before it goes into executive session.

Michelle Rodriguez, a mother of two seventh graders at Legacy Middle School, said she is concerned that parents weren’t adequately consulted as the committee worked toward a recommendation.

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“I don’t expect every parent to be notified. I understand that’s not easy. But I do feel something should have went out, maybe a survey. The board members, they represent districts. How come my board member didn’t send out a mailer or visit a PTA meeting?” Rodriguez said.

Becca DeFelice, an organizer in San Antonio for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said Tuesday afternoon the group was trying to send a representative to the meeting.

“If there is armed personnel in schools, it should be law enforcement,” DeFelice said.

Bryant said board members have been mulling over the option of arming employees as a way to bolster school security for “a number of years” and had sought community input in previous meetings and other school safety conversations.

He noted some schools in East Central ISD have been renovated with hardened entrances and other safety measures under the the district’s 2016 bond.

“This is the next logical progression in our working to create safe environments to our students and our staff,” Bryant said.

Krista Torralva covers several school districts and public universities in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read her on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | Krista.Torralva@express-news.net | Twitter: @KMTorralva

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