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Harrold school opens under watchful eyes

HARROLD, Texas -- Students in Harrold started arriving for school about 7 a.m. Monday under the watchful eyes of parents, teachers and the media.

The 110-student district lies 150 miles northwest of Fort Worth on the eastern end of Wilbarger County, near the Oklahoma border. It has become an international media subject after the Harrold school board voted to allow teachers and staff to carry weapons, if they had a state permit to do so and the district's permission.

The board cited the school's distance from any law enforcement help should it be needed in an emergency situation. The school is about a 30-minute drive from the sheriff's office.

Parent Troy Blakeley dropped of his fourth-grad son, Brady, at the rustic, red brick two-story school that has grain silos and a water tower that sit adjacent to its baseball field.

He said he thinks the policy is a good one, and that he's not worried that Brady will be shot by a teacher or an intruder.

"If it was a bigger school like in Dallas, then maybe I'd be worried a little more," he said. "Look what's happened in other places."

Blakeley said all the attention the policy has brought has been the talk of the town.

"They think we're crazy down here in Texas," he said.

Blakeley said he trusts Superintendent David Thweatt. "This school is run by a very smart man," he said.

Blakeley said he also attended the Harrold school as did his older son, now a police officer in nearby Vernon.

Another parent, Judy Priz, who has a daughter in the third grade, said "everyone I've talked to thinks it's great."

She said she finds it amazing that the small town has become an international news item.

"It kind of blew me away that everyone was like, 'Oh, my gosh,'" she said.

"I trust these teachers here with my child's life," she said. "These teachers here know the kids and the parents. They know what's going on."

She, too noted the time it takes emergency responders to reach the school.

"Look how long it takes the police or anybody else to get here," she said. "If someone wants to come here and harm someone, at least we would have sort of defense."