Cleburne school district decides not to arm educators

Posted Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Cleburne school officials will not pursue a proposal to allow teachers, administrators and other staff members to carry guns onto campus after a community-wide survey showed that too many residents and students were opposed to the idea.

School board President Brent Easdon said Wednesday that although he was in favor of arming teachers, he decided to listen to the community.

"I was in favor of it (arming teachers) because I see the response time for an individual as being much faster. Even if there was an officer on campus, he might be in another area when something happens," Easdon said.

Superintendent Tim Miller said that no motions were made at the school board meeting earlier this week, and trustees did not vote on whether or not to allow employees to carry guns on campus.

Miller said parents and employees were surveyed at two community forums in February, and people could also take the survey online. The survey showed that 59 percent of the participants opposed the idea of arming employees while 41 percent approved. A total of 1,134 people participated in the survey.

Most employees who took the survey didn't like the idea of carrying guns, but parents whose children are enrolled in elementary schools were in favor of employees carrying guns, with 53 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.

Miller said that an English teacher at Cleburne High School surveyed her 10th-grade students, and the overwhelming majority said they didn't want their teachers to carry guns. They suggested some alternatives, such as allowing teachers to use tasers or mace and install metal detectors.

Miller said that among the employees, there were a few "outliers" who wanted to carry their guns on campus.

"Most did not feel comfortable with firearms. They were in the classroom to teach and didn't want to take on that added responsibility" Miller said.

On May 11, voters will decide whether to approve a $10 million bond package to fund safety and security, technology improvements and other campus improvements.

Out of that bond package, $1.2 million would be used for security improvements which include installing new doors that would make it more difficult for people to enter school buildings. Adding more surveillance cameras is also part of the security improvement plan.

Other districts have discussed the possibility of teachers carrying their concealed weapons on campus. Discussions have taken place in other districts including Arlington, but no decisions were made. In Fort Worth, Code Blue volunteers are now patrolling schools.

Three small districts -- Van, Harrold and Union Grove -- do allow teachers to carry concealed handguns in the classroom.

Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696

Twitter: @fwstliz

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