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January 22, 2014

Argyle school board approves arming campus employees

The armed employees will be selected from a “volunteer” pool and must have a concealed-handgun license and undergo a “rigorous interview process,” Argyle trustees say.

Argyle school trustees have voted to allow some employees to carry concealed handguns on campuses to bolster security.

The school board approved the policy Tuesday and announced it with a media statement Wednesday.

Neither Superintendent Telena Wright nor board members responded to requests for comment Wednesday night.

According to the statement, the policy authorizes “specific District employees to possess certain firearms on District property, at District-sponsored or District-sanctioned events, and at Board meetings.”

It was unclear Wednesday how many Texas school districts have adopted similar programs.

Last year, school officials in Arlington and Cleburne discussed letting some employees carry concealed handguns but opted instead to upgrade surveillance cameras and other equipment.

“The Argyle School District considers the safety of our students our utmost priority,” the statement said.

The Denton County city has a population of about 3,500, and the district’s four campuses have about 1,800 students.

The statement said trustees started re-evaluating security procedures on Dec. 17, 2012. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., occurred three days earlier.

The names of the armed employees and specifics about their procedures won’t be made public, to “maintain the strategic integrity of the new policy,” officials said.

The policy has “safeguards.” For example, employees authorized for the program “will come from a volunteer pool,” but they must hold a concealed-handgun license “in accordance with state law,” officials said.

Volunteers must also pass a “rigorous interview process, a complete psychological evaluation and a comprehensive firearms and emergency response training course,” officials said.

“Authorized employees will be required to participate in an ongoing requalification process throughout the course of the school year,” the officials said. “Ongoing, district-wide emergency response and active shooter trainings and exercises will be held at each Argyle ISD campus throughout the school year.”

The program will be managed by Ralph Price, who was hired in October as the city’s first police chief, officials said.

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