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School district votes to pack heat

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Teachers and other school staff members in one southern Denton County school district will soon be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus.

The Argyle school board approved a major change in policy at their May 20 meeting, voting to allow teachers and faculty to carry firearms on the district’s campuses.

No training company or training dates have been determined and the selection process has not yet been detailed, but the district is moving forward with the decision.

“I believe that the vote to allow armed staff shows a commitment to the safety and security of every student in AISD,” said Argyle Superintendent Dr. Telena Wright.

Wright said that authorizing school employees to carry is the only viable answer to the critical first minutes of a shooter on a campus. 

“I believe armed staff would lessen the number killed dramatically. I don’t know for certain that armed staff would have made a difference in Newtown, Conn., but without armed staff, the principal had no chance.”

Wright made it clear that the district needs to observe strict guidelines in enforcement of the new policy, but said she does not believe that will be an issue for the AISD.

“As long as there is careful implementation with adequate selection and training, I am confident in arming staff.”

Wright said she is not aware of any backlash from parents or teachers regarding the decision.

The district is also considering hiring a school resource officer for the upcoming school year.

The Denton school district has taken a slightly different approach, and Sharon Cox, DISD Director of Communications and Community Relations, said the district is quite satisfied with the policy already in place.

“At this time, the district has not proposed armed staff at campuses because of the strong security measures already in place,” Cox said. “For example, for almost 15 years, Denton ISD has had school resource officers at the secondary schools, which also serve the feeder elementary schools. These are certified police and armed officers from the cities or entities of that particular community.”

Cox said that Denton ISD has also gone the extra mile with video surveillance, ensuring that it can keep an eye on any suspicious activity or deviant behavior on a constant basis.

“In 2007, the $282 million bond package included building secure vestibules/entryways for existing schools,” Cox said. “The secure entryways were already being built in the newer schools.”

Cox said schools all have security cameras throughout the building and outside the campuses monitored 24-7 by security staff.

LISD Public Information Officer Karen Permetti said the Lewisville school district that serves more than 50,000 students has no intention of arming staff.

Permetti said that the question has been addressed, and the district believes arming faculty and staff members is not the route it wants to take.

“We met with all of our police and fire chiefs earlier in the spring, and we discussed that this isn’t something the district will consider,” Permetti said.

The district recently hired a Safety and Security Officer, a newly-created position to coordinate the security programs for the district and oversee the district’s school resource officer program.

 

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