WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Should teachers be armed? Harrold ISD has armed their staff since 2007 and now other schools and legislators are reaching out to them to find out how.
Harrold ISD's Superintendent David Thweatt has been receiving a lot of phone calls in the wake of recent school shootings. He is telling people how he implemented the Guardian Plan over a decade ago.
After shootings like Virginia Tech and the shooting at an Amish school in Pennsylvania, Thweatt felt it was time to take tougher measures to prevent it happening to Harrold's school.
Harrold, Texas is home to only one school that goes from kindergarten to 12th grade. It has 115 students, 24 staff members and it would take first responders almost 30 minutes to reach them in a time of crisis.
Thweatt recruits members to be a part of the Guardian team. He says he chooses people who already have a concealed carry license. They are then approved by the board and go on to receive more training allowing them to carry in school environments. He says he does not put them through background checks, but he believes they would be good under pressure.
The school does not have a security guard, but Thweatt thinks it's better to have more than one person.
He said, "…even though we know the data shows that those security guards and resource officers are a deterrent because they create a hard target,…there's still more coverage if you can do it – and cheaper than buying that one security guard in one place."
He says its economically cheaper to have teachers armed than to hire a guard. He also says that when an insurance company said they would no longer provide liability coverage after the staff was armed, the school moved on to a company that would.
Is the same plan be necessary for urban school districts and would it work? Thweatt says yes, "it also can be adapted to fit any particular need that you have if you pick the right people, if you have the right policies in place in regards to this (which we do), and if you have the right training."
Even though he handpicks those on the team, he does not expect them to act as guards. However, he feels they are the type of people that would protect others around them if the situation ever presents itself.
To those on the edge about arming school staff, he says their fear is misplaced.
Thweatt said, "…irrational fear of guns. They're not going to get up and walk around and shoot you. I don't care what Hollywood tells you, that's just not the case. Even though people are afraid of guns nobody that I know of ever hesitates to call the police when they're in trouble so I find that interesting."