Orangefield ISD board votes to allow armed employees on its campuses

Orangefield ISD Board of Trustees

Elected officials of the Orangefield Independent School District Board of Trustees approved a measure this week that would allow for employees to be armed on its campuses for “safety and security.”

At the regular meeting of the board scheduled for Monday night, April 23, the group agreed to approve a resolution that would begin the process of stationing armed personnel at its campuses through the district’s School Marshal Program.

“Whereas Orangefield ISD has determined that the safety and security of students and staff is a paramount … and realizes the local district administration and employees will be first on scene in the event of an armed intruder or other dangerous situation,” the resolution reads, “the Board of Trustees determines that it is in the best interest of the district that designated and properly licensed district employees be authorized to possess firearms on the physical premises of a school or the district in order to provide for the safety and security of students, staff, and visitors.”

Furthermore, according to the approved resolution provided by the district, “The Board of Trustees has directed local district administration and employees to use every reasonable precaution regarding the safety of its students, employees, visitors, and all others with whom it conducts business,” and that includes protecting “students, employees, and property” as allowed under Texas Education Code Section 37.102 of the Texas Education Code.

The Texas Education Code authorizes the Board of Trustees to appoint one or more school marshals through written regulation, and the Texas Penal Code permits the district to authorize the possession of a firearm on the physical premises of a school, “either through written regulation or written authorization.”

According to the published resolution, the Orangefield ISD Board of Trustees collectively agrees that the decision to authorize “designated and properly licensed district employees … to possess firearms on the physical premises of a school … would be in the best interest of the district to prepare for any and all safety and security situations.”

The district-approved School Marshal Program and/or the School Guardian Program would fulfill the purposes of the approved resolution.

According to Orangefield ISD board policy, a school marshal is a person who is appointed to serve under the Education Code and is licensed under the Occupations Code, with the powers and duties described by Code of Criminal Procedure. “The board may appoint a person as a school marshal if the person is an employee of the district and certified by TCOLE as eligible for appointment,” policy reiterates. All qualified applicants would be required to complete certain training and a psychological examination before being recommended for TCOLE instruction, but the TCOLE training program is open to any employee of a school district who holds a license to carry a handgun issued under Government Code Chapter 411, Subchapter H.

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Policy also specifies that the board may appoint no more than “the greater of one school marshal per 200 students in average daily attendance per campus; or, for each campus, one school marshal per building on a campus at which students regularly receive classroom instruction.”

A school marshal may make arrests and exercise all authority given to peace officers under the Code of Criminal Procedure, subject to written regulations adopted by the board. School marshals are restricted in that they can “only act as necessary to prevent or abate the commission of an offense that threatens serious bodily injury or death of students, faculty, or visitors on school premises.

“A school marshal may not issue a traffic citation for a violation of the Transportation Code.”

While school marshals may have guns on the campus, if their primary duty to the district involves “regular, direct contact with students,” the marshal is not allowed to carry a concealed handgun but rather must keep their weapon in a locked and secured safe. Additionally, written regulations must also require...

 

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