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Argyle to begin pilot program

Profile image for By Britney Tabor/ Staff Writer
By Britney Tabor/ Staff Writer

School district to train select people to carry firearms on campuses

ARGYLE — The Argyle school district intends to pilot a program in which a select number of district staff members and officials are trained to be armed on campus.

The school board approved the program in a 7-0 vote Monday.

District officials say the pilot program is an opportunity for the board and administration to evaluate the training.

The district intends to launch “Not on My Watch,” a safety and security program, and pay $650 per trainee. Facilitating the training is Greg Coker, program manager and founder of Not on My Watch.

At a meeting in May, school board members authorized Superintendent Telena Wright to amend district policies and develop new ones that would allow district staff and officials to be armed on campus subject to board approval of each individual.

At the time, it was stated that Wright would bring the amended policy before the board for consideration within 60 days and that once action was taken on the amended policy, trustees would then consider training to arm district staff members and officials.

Board President Kevin Faciane said at this point an amended policy has not been brought to the board for consideration. However, board members decided to pilot Not on My Watch so they could evaluate whether the training is something the district wants to continue in the future.

“We’re going to run some people through the training just to evaluate the training,” he said. “After the training, the board will evaluate the training module that’s been proposed.”

The training, ultimately, could be a part of an amended policy, he said.

The board could consider an amendment to policy at an August or September meeting, Wright said.

The number of people participating in the pilot training was not disclosed.

“As part of our security plan as we move forward ... that’s not a number that we wish to disclose,” Faciane said. “Every person that would ultimately be approved ... [to] carry on campus will be approved by the board in executive session, so that won’t be publicly disclosed.”

If district policy is amended to arm district staff members and officials, individuals who participate in the Not on My Watch pilot program would not have to undergo training again, Wright said.

According to Wright, the training could begin within the next four to eight weeks. She said she’s reached out to staff members who would have some interest in participating in the pilot program. She said at some point in the future she intends to send a mass e-mail to district employees inquiring of others who might also be interested in participating in the training.

Coker said trainees will undergo three intensive days of training.

“We’re going to cover tactical firearms, shooting safety tactics, response to an emergency, threat and intervention,” he said. “They’ll fire approximately 900 rounds in those three days.”

Training, Coker said, will also include a half-day on “force on force” in which trainees will participate in threat scenarios in which “they must engage a threat effectively and immediately.” Airsoft guns — non-firearms that fire plastic pellets — will be used for the half-day exercises, he said.

The goal, he said, is to equip trainees with the tools to effectively engage a threat.

Since the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last December, the Argyle school district has examined measures for securing district facilities and proactively protecting people on district campuses.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.