Argyle ISD approves campus firearms policy

After over a year of planning, the Argyle School Board voted Tuesday to adopt guidelines for district employees to carry guns on school property.

The program will be overseen by Argyle ISD Police Chief Ralph Price and is open to district employees who hold a license to carry a concealed handgun.

Candidates will have to pass a rigorous interview process, psychological evaluation and a firearms and emergency response training course.

Employees in the program will be required to participate in an ongoing re-qualification process throughout the course of the school year.

The identities of employees authorized to carry firearms will not be released to the public, school officials said. Media reports state that the guns will be locked in a safe at all times.

Ongoing, district-wide emergency response and active shooter trainings and exercises will be held at each Argyle ISD campus throughout the school year and signs will be erected at each Argyle ISD campus announcing the potential presence of armed school personnel.

In response to the Newtown, Conn. school shooting, the board of trustees ordered an evaluation of the district’s safety, security and emergency response policies on December 17, 2012. Following the evaluations the district hosted a community forum in April 2013 to present the various options available.

The school board voted on May 15, 2013 to allow staff to carry concealed weapons on campus.

On August 8, 2013, the board voted to create an Argyle ISD Police Department and hired Ralph Price as the department’s first police chief in October, creating the first armed presence on Argyle ISD school property.

Argyle Superintendent Dr. Telena Wright said in an interview last June that authorizing school employees to carry is the only viable answer to the critical first minutes of a shooter on 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.  I believe that the vote to allow armed staff shows a commitment to the safety and security of every student in AISD.”

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