“God Forbid, We Ever have to Use Anything Like This”   

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – On Monday, July 30, the Crockett Independent School District Board of Trustees went into executive session to discuss school safety issues. When they emerged from behind closed doors some two hours later, the CISD board unanimously approved a policy to allow certain faculty and staff to carry weapons onto the various campuses.

CISD Superintendent Terry Myers discussed the board’s decision in a meeting with local media on Thursday morning.

“We are actually going to be joining the ranks of school districts who have armed some of their employees,” he said.

“With all the stuff that’s been happening and with that tragedy which occurred so close to here in Santa Fe – our board has been considering this for a couple of years – we just can’t sit and hope nothing happens here in Crockett,” Myers said.

“I think we need to send a strong message to everyone that if you come in here and try and mess with our kids in Crockett, we’re going to meet you at the door,” he said.

After providing a prepared statement to those present in the room, Myers said he never imagined – after 20 plus years as a superintendent – he would have ever entertained this type of idea.

Myers said he hoped this would be more of a deterrent and had plans to place signs around the various campuses which say the staff is armed and will do what it takes to protect the children.

“That’s really our purpose in doing this,” he continued. “It’s to let folks know if you come in here it’s not going to be like shooting fish in a barrel.”

The superintendent explained anyone who was allowed to carry a weapon on school grounds would undergo rigorous background checks and psychological assessments. .

“They would also need to be cleared by me and also the local police department, in terms of firearm proficiency. I want all of you to know we are doing our best to make sure our community is safe, our children are safe and that is what this is about. God forbid, we ever have to use anything like this,” Myers said.

When asked why now was a good time for this as opposed to after a tragedy like Sandy Hook or Parkland, Myers indicated he believed “… this was becoming more and more prevalent. In the last 10 years, I believe there have been some 200 plus shootings. With Italy, Texas experiencing that, with Alpine, Texas experiencing that and with Santa Fe now experiencing that, we just feel like it’s time to send a message that we’re just not going to lie down.”

Myers said he anticipated resistance to this and cited the initial use of the police on campus in their role of resource officers.

“Many people felt like the police were there for the wrong reasons but after a couple of years, people have seen they are there only as a deterrent,” he explained. “One of the big problems in these events is that they are over in three to five minutes. If it takes law enforcement that long to get here, the event – the horrific part of it, the killing – has already taken place.”

Myers stressed those who were armed would not be carrying them on their hips or flagrantly exposing the weapon.

“This will be primarily a guardian type situation but there will be a few school marshals who will actively pursue a shooter, just like the police would, if they ever came into our schools,” he said.

In 2013, the Texas Legislature passed two separate methods to allow educators and/or school district employees to carry handguns on campus. The options were called the “School Marshal Plan” and the “School Safety Training (Guardian Plan)”

The School Marshal Plan was intended to give educators/employees armed law enforcement capabilities and responsibilities, according to the Texas Education Code 37.0811.

The School Safety Training, otherwise known as the Guardian Plan was intended to solely to provide hand-picked armed educators/employees the ability to defend themselves and students in the event of an Active Shooter or “Active Killer,” according to the Texas Govt. Code 411.1901.

“We don’t want the people in our community to feel like we sat on our hands and waited and waited and waited and not taken every precaution we felt like was in the best interest of children to make sure our children were safe,” Myers said.

Myers explained he selected the faculty and staff who he believed would be good candidates for the guardian or marshal position but indicated they were also given a chance to opt out of the program.

Asked specifically about the response from CISD employees, the superintendent said “… everyone was in support of this, even those who decided to opt out. Our board is also 100 percent behind this.”

Those selected to carry a weapon on CISD campuses will need to be re-certified every two years and will need to qualify every year with the weapon.

Other security measures enacted by the district include: single access points at the various campuses; school resource officers; coordination with the various law enforcement agencies; lockdown procedures and drills; camera systems; alarms; locked classroom doors; and continuing staff instruction on the recognition of unknown visitors.

“The gravity of this decision gives me all kinds of anxiety but it doesn’t give me as much anxiety as knowing there could be an individual out there who could come in here and harm my children and I had not taken steps to make them safe. Even though it’s a scary situation, I feel like as an educator – even though I never thought I would have to do this – I feel like it is the best decision that can be made right now and I feel like it is in the best interest of our children, of our staff and of our community.”

In a prepared statement, CISD Board President Lela Wheeler stated, “I never thought I would have to be a part of a decision like this, but we must not let folks know that you can’t just come up here and attempt to harm our children. Should someone think they can, we will ‘meet them at the door’ and do whatever is necessary to protect children and staff. May God bless us here in Crockett.”

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.