Westwood ISD in Palestine has joined a growing list of East Texas school districts allowing teachers and administrators to carry concealed handguns on campus.
Monday night, the Westwood ISD school board voted 5 to 1 to pass what they're calling, "The Guardian Plan." One board member was absent during the vote.
Now, school administrators are working to implement the plan in a way that eases parents' concerns, but doesn't give all the details to potential predators.
School officials are not disclosing when some employees with a concealed handgun license, their own weapon and a willingness to volunteer as a guardian will be walking the halls armed, but it will be soon.
"It is a huge responsibility and liability that they would be taking on their shoulders. They're not to ever show that firearm in public unless there is a life threatening situation," says Superintendent Ed Lyman.
Lyman says the district is putting predators on notice that Westwood will not be an easy target. But, he says that doesn't mean parents need to be alarmed.
"There are rumors out there that every teacher is going to be armed. There are rumors out there that somehow we're putting the children at risk by doing this. Nothing could be further from the truth," Lyman says.
Soon the gun-free school zone sign outside each campus will be accompanied with another sign that warns intruders that some people on campus are armed. However, the gun-free signs will stay put because after all, the campus will still be a gun-free zone to those who don't have approval to carry a weapon.
"When we took our vote, I was the one that voted against it, but we are all on the same page. I voted against it for the safety of our children. They voted for it, for the safety of our children," says Westwood ISD School Board President Theresa Bambeck.
Bambeck says the logistics concern her, but she's standing behind the board's decision and is confident they'll work everything out to best serve teachers and students.
Westwood ISD says not everyone who volunteers to carry a weapon will be approved. Superintendent Lyman says more background checks and training will be necessary. He adds, the district will be working with local law enforcement to be sure the guardian plan is implemented responsibly.
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