By Victor Skinner
AUSTIN, Texas – A Texas state lawmaker wants to allow public schools to train an employee to serve as a “school marshal” during emergencies, and give that person authority to keep a firearm for protection.
State Rep. Jason Villalba, of Dallas, said his proposed “Protection of Texas Children Act” would create a new law enforcement position for schools that cannot afford a traditional resource officer.
HB 1009 would allow schools with 400 or fewer students to designate one teacher or administrator as a school marshal who would only serve as an active police officer in the event of an armed attack, StarLocalNews.com reports.
That person would receive 80 hours of training from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers and would have the authority to keep a firearm locked away at school. The legislation wouldn’t fund or mandate the training, but would give schools the option to create the position.
“We anticipate that school districts will pick up the tab, but it’s not required by law. It’s only at their discretion,” Villalba told the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, according to the news site.
The Texas Association of School Administrators and the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas both support the legislation.
“If we’re not going to have a police officer in every school, as we probably need, then we’d prefer a CHL holder have that 80 hours” of training, Charley Wilkison, the organization’s spokesman, told lawmakers, StarLocalNews.com reports.
The Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, of course, believes full-time police officers should be the only people allowed to protect children at school.
“The basic idea here is that any guns on campus should be in the hands of fully trained law enforcement officers – not teachers, not people who are partially trained to do it,” association rep Ted Melina Raab said.
Reid King, a former high school teacher and parent of six, disagrees with Raab completely. He believes the legislation is unnecessary, and teachers with a license to carry a concealed weapon should simply be allowed to do so on school property.
“We do not need to create an additional position with related expenses to protect our schools,” King told lawmakers, StarLocalNews.com reports.
“Law enforcement currently has a presence on high school campuses. What is needed is to allow teachers who currently hold a license to protect themselves and their students from harm.”