AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law several measures meant to boost school security, including ones that allow armed teachers in schools and increase mental health services for students.
The bills signed Thursday were passed this year in response to the 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School near Houston that killed eight students and two substitute teachers, and wounded 13 other people. A student at the school was charged in the killings.
One of the new laws allows schools to arm as many teachers and campus personnel as local officials see fit. The state’s school marshal program requires marshals to undergo 80 hours of training, including active shooter scenarios.
Armed teacher in Argyle is nothing new since the district designed and a rolled out a policy to arm some of their staff members back in 2014.
“It began after the absolute massacre at Sandy Hook,” AISD Superintendent Dr. Telena Wright said.
Armed staff members there volunteered and passed a rigorous training, according to Argyle ISD Police chief Paul Cairney. “There is nobody that is forced to do this. It is not a pre-condition to their employment here in the district by any means,” he said.
Also, the district’s armed staff policy differs from the Texas School Marshal program in that AISD staff do not have arresting authority. Cairney also said unlike those in the Marshal program, AISD staff who carry concealed have their weapons on them all the time. Those who are allowed to be armed on Argyle ISD campuses have to go through training, and get approved by the police chief, the superintendent and the school board members.
Teachers groups and gun control advocates have opposed allowing more guns in schools.
Texas lawmakers did not pass any new gun restrictions after the shooting.