Approval allowing some Argyle ISD staff to carry guns to be clarified
Just two days after approving a controversial guns-on-campus policy, Argyle school officials said they will revote on the policy next week to clarify their approval for allowing some district employees to carry concealed weapons.
Argyle Superintendent Telena Wright said a school board meeting will be posted for next Wednesday for trustees to revisit the policy to allow some district employees to carry firearms. The meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m. at the Argyle Independent School District board room at 600 Eagle Drive.
Wright said public response to the policy was overwhelmingly supportive, with just one parent calling to voice opposition to the policy by late Thursday afternoon. It drew opposition from national gun-control advocates, however, who said school officials may be putting students at risk.
The policy will allow the school board to authorize some district employees who are licensed to carry concealed handguns to take a weapon on school campuses and to certain district-sanctioned events and board meetings, school officials said. Those employees approved to carry firearms must pass a “rigorous interview process, a complete psychological evaluation and a comprehensive firearms and emergency response training course,” according to a press statement the district released Wednesday.
The specific staff selected for the program will not be publicly identified and will be selected from a pool of volunteers, officials said. A group of employees participated in a pilot training program last fall.
Signs warning visitors that some employees would be armed and authorized to use force to protect students will not be posted until after the Wednesday board meeting, Wright said.
District officials said an apparent error in wording was made in the posting for the school board’s meeting agenda Tuesday for the gun policy, which the board approved unanimously. An attorney who specializes in open government laws told the Denton Record-Chronicle that the posting error could raise questions about the legality of the vote.
Wright said the board will revote on the district’s “CKC” policy to clarify that employees could carry certain firearms on district property. The vote initially had been posted as a “CKE” policy, a designation that had been used to describe a policy relating to establishment of a police department for the district.
Board President Kevin Faciane said Wednesday the agenda included “miswording” and that prior to voting Tuesday, the board was advised to clarify the wording before taking a vote. Faciane said Wednesday that the description of the policy was accurate but that the policy lettering was not.
At the upcoming board meeting, trustees are also scheduled to vote on the actual CKE policy. The board has already approved a resolution establishing a police department and is awaiting approval from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
Both Faciane and Wright said Wednesday that the decision to allow armed district employees puts individuals on campuses who can respond to emergency situations in the initial minutes.
Wright said the board’s decision comes as no surprise to Argyle residents, who have known the district was considering allowing its staff to bear arms.
But Hilary Rand, regional manager for Texas for the national Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said arming teachers only makes a “situation worse, not better.”
“Research continually shows that guns do not make you safer, so introducing guns into an environment whether it’s your home or your workplace or a school classroom, that vastly increases the odds that someone will be shot,” Rand said. “More guns lead to more accidents. We owe our children and ourselves a world where we don’t have to live by lockdown.”
Wright said the district’s decision followed the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six adults. She said Argyle has not seen any escalation in violence or threats of violence in recent years.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.