Arming Educators: Lubbock ISD may train staff to keep students s

Arming Educators: Lubbock ISD may train staff to keep students safe

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

How do you protect students, when their biggest threat could be sitting next to them in class? 


In the last year, Lubbock ISD has made safety its number one priority. 

"I know we are here to educate students, reading, math, science, social studies, and we are absolutely going to do that. But if the students do not feel safe, if the environment is not healthy, then that learning is for naught," Dr. Kathy Rollo, superintendent of Lubbock ISD, said. 

The district recently implemented several new measures including a "Standard Response Protocol", created a new position: "Director of school safety and security", and established multiple threat assessment teams at each campus. 

"All of those things, that are hopefully preventing some students from feeling like they need to take drastic measures in a situation," Dr. Rollo said. 

Some still are urging the district to do more. 

So the district is considering two programs, both would put teachers and staff on the front lines. 


Option #1: School Marshal Program: 

  • 80 training hours every 2 years, through the state (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement or TCOLE) 
  • Learn to disable/neutralize threat
  • Firearm kept secured

Option #2: Guardian Program

  • 15-20 hours training per district discretion
  • Learn self-defense model 
  • Must carry firearm at all times

Both include: 

  • Require license to carry
  • Volunteer based
  • Additional stipend 
  • Mental health evaluation

"We're teaching them shooting techniques and skills that we would teach law enforcement. So they're actually honing skills and building skills that we expect out of our everyday police officers. We do it in great expectation that it is training that we hope they never have to use," Kyle Mcnew, an instructor at Texas Engineering Extension Service, said. 


According to the TCOLE,  there are now more than 200 school marshals in the state.  

An anonymous trainee describes why he chose to voluntarily join the program.

"This gives me the opportunity and the ability to stop more kids from being killed. If I can save a classroom full of kids, then I think I've done my job." 


Lubbock ISD has its own police force but Chief Jody Scifres says during an attack, every second counts.


"Even in Lubbock, we would anticipate a pretty quick response. But even a minute or two is a really long time if you're being shot at," Chief Scifres said. 


A recent scare at Smylie Wilson Middle School last week, has parents thinking about the safety of their children. 

Last Thursday, a student was arrested  for bringing a gun to school.

Some parents and guardians are concerned, but remain open to the idea of arming teachers.

 "I think that would be a good idea, but you know you wouldn't want to shoot a little kid either though. But I guess if he was shooting people you would have to do something to stop it, " Kennith Thompson said. 

"Hoping that they get the correct training, that they need to evaluate the situation and be ready and prepared if something were to occur," Stephanie Mojica said.


Others feel strongly against it.


"Training them how to use firearms? No, that's just...there's no place for it. Parents need to stand strong, we need to stand against that, make sure that there are no guns, not just by the students but by anyone. Only law enforcement should have them," Gigi Aritabaotisd said.


Lubbock ISD officials assure that changes will not happen overnight.

"We absolutely are not in a rush, because if we do it, we want to do it the right way," Dr. Rollo added.

"It's just a tool for the district. We don't know what the future is going to hold," Chief Scifres said. 

Parents are encouraged to join the on-going conversation with the district.

The next community safety meeting will take place at Coronado High School on Tuesday, January 7 at 6:30 P.M.

There will also be more meetings at the following locations and dates at the same time:

  • Monterey High School on February 4, 2020
  • Lubbock High School on March 3, 2020
  • Irons Middle School on April 7, 2020
 


Additionally in May, a special meeting will be for staff members to discuss their concerns. 

 

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