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Argyle ISD to implement School Marshals program to protect students from potential school attackers

Argyle ISD to implement School Marshals program to protect students from potential school attackers
MGN-Online
The School Yard
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - 4:49pm

Wednesday, the Argyle Independent School District, northwest of Dallas, announced it will implement the School Marshal program as an element of their school safety plan. The program was created as a result of the passage of House Bill 1009, the Protection of Texas Children Act, authored by Texas State Representative Jason Villalba (District 114). The legislation created a new subset of law enforcement officer, called School Marshals, who serve as the last line of defense should an armed attacker threaten the lives of children in public schools. The School Marshal program is optional – providing a rigorous standard of training and certification that expands law enforcement in schools, should a district choose to participate. The legislation was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry and the training module was developed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE).

“I have a daughter attending a public elementary school and very soon two more will follow in her footsteps. Like all parents, I am deeply concerned for their safety, and all Texas school children during the school day,” said Representative Villalba. “I am comforted knowing that Dallas ISD schools have the resources to employ a police department to protect our schools, but many school districts in Texas do not have the resources to afford their own police department or a full-time School Resource Officer. The School Marshal program provides a cost-effective security option that includes robust training tailored to protect children in schools during an active shooter situation.”

The initial “Train the Trainer” instruction will be held in March at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University in San Marcos. This training will be conducted by TCOLE. School Marshal training will begin this summer.

Main provisions of the Protection of Texas Children Act:

  • The program will be optional for school districts - NOT mandated by the state.
     
  • The plan expands law enforcement into schools by providing comprehensive and specified training for certain volunteer school employees so that they may serve as licensed law enforcement officers in schools ("School Marshals"). 
     
  • School Marshal training will include mental health evaluation, active shooter and emergency situation training, and firearms proficiency requirements, in each case, as developed by TCOLE. These training standards will require 80 hours of classroom and simulation modules, ten times the amount currently required by CHL standards.
     
  • License renewal will be required every two years, which such license renewal would include mental health reevaluation, active shooter and emergency situation recertification, and firearms proficiency training as developed by TCOLE.
     
  • School Marshals will only be authorized to act in response to an active shooter or other immediate threat to human life on school grounds. Any firearm accessible to a School Marshal will remain locked in a safe, within immediate reach of the School Marshal, if he or she works in a classroom or in the direct presence of children.
     
  • Participants in the program will be volunteers - a teacher, administrator, coach, or other member of the faculty - who receives permission from the school administration to serve as a School Marshal.
     
  • The cost of training and certification will be paid by the School Marshal, unless grant money is identified and directed for this purpose. These costs will not paid for out of general state revenue.
     
  • School Marshals will be required to use frangible ammunition, designed to disintegrate upon contact with hard surfaces, minimizing the risk of errant shots that ricochet or might otherwise go through an interior wall.
     
  • School Marshals will be covert - known only to the head school administrator and local law enforcement authorities.

Rep. Villalba worked closely with law enforcement and school groups such as TCOLE, the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA), the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT), the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), and many others to develop a plan that is tailored, reasonable, thoughtful, and responsive to a serious challenge facing Texas and the nation.

 

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