Staffers must be qual­i­fied

School

Austin American-Statesman - - NEWS - Con­tin­ued from A

ten­dent David Th­weatt said. “A shooter could take out a guard or of­fi­cer with a vis­i­ble, hol­stered weapon, but our teach­ers have master’s de­grees, are older and have had ex­ten­sive train­ing. And their guns are hid­den. We can pro­tect our chil­dren.”

In the af­ter­math of last week’s Con­necti­cut ele­men­tary school shoot­ing, law­mak­ers in a grow­ing num­ber of states — in­clud­ing Ok­la­homa, Mis­souri, Min­nesota, South Dakota and Ore­gon — have said they will con­sider laws al­low­ing teach­ers and school ad­min­is­tra­tors to carry firearms at school.

Texas law bans guns in schools un­less the school has given writ­ten au­tho­riza­tion. Ari­zona and six other states have sim­i­lar laws with ex­cep­tions for peo­ple who have li­censes to carry con­cealed weapons.

Har­rold’s school board voted unan­i­mously in 2007 to al­low em­ploy­ees to carry weapons. Af­ter ob­tain­ing a state con­cealed-weapons per­mit, each em­ployee who wants to carry a weapon must be ap­proved by the board based on his or her per­son­al­ity and re­ac­tion to a cri­sis, Th­weatt said.

Em­ploy­ees also must un­dergo train­ing in cri­sis in­ter­ven­tion and hostage sit­u­a­tions. And they must use bul­lets that min­i­mize the risk of ric­o­chet, sim­i­lar to those car­ried by air mar­shals on planes.

CaRae Reinisch, who lives in the nearby com­mu­nity of El­liott, said she took her chil­dren out of a larger school and en­rolled them in Har­rold two years ago, partly be­cause she felt they would be safer with armed teach­ers.

“I think it’s a great idea for trained teach­ers to carry weapons,” Reinisch said. “But I hate that it has come to this.”

The su­per­in­ten­dent won’t dis­close how many of the school’s 50 em­ploy­ees carry weapons, say­ing that might jeop­ar­dize school se­cu­rity.

The school, about 150 miles north­west of Fort Worth near the Ok­la­homa bor­der, has 103 stu­dents from kinder­garten through 12th grade. Most of them rarely think about who is car­ry­ing a gun.

“This is the first time in a long time that I’ve thought about it,” said Matt Tem­ple­ton, the prin­ci­pal’s 17-year-old son. “And that’s be­cause of what hap­pened” in Con­necti­cut.

Th­weatt said other Texas schools al­low teach­ers to carry weapons, but he would not re­veal their lo­ca­tions, say­ing they are afraid of neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity.

The Texas Ed­u­ca­tion Agency said it had not heard of any other schools with such a pol­icy. And the Brady Cen­ter to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence did not know of any other dis­tricts na­tion­wide that al­low school em­ploy­ees to carry con­cealed hand­guns.

But that may change.

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