Westwood ISD sign: Staff may be armed to protect students - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Westwood ISD sign: Staff may be armed to protect students

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PALESTINE, TX (KLTV) -

The Westwood Independent School District in Palestine has posted some new signs that are catching some residents' attention.

The signs warn that staff on campus may be armed in order to protect students. The school district adopted the plan to arm staff members in February.

Westwood ISD Superintendent Ed Lyman says that he wants to be able to respond to crises on campus instantly.

"As the saying goes, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away," Lyman said.

Lyman says that he believes the new signs will help prevent threats on campus. The school district says they now have at least one sign at each campus. They're also ordering more so they can put them at the front entrances to the schools.

"The idea behind the signs that we've posted as a deterrent is to put the public on notice that we are instituting the guardian plan and that we're all about the safety for our children," Lyman says.

But not all parents are happy with armed staff in schools.

"I absolutely do not approve of kids being around guns," said Palestine resident Patricia Vance. "They may have been trained with guns, but they're not the military. They're not trained to react. They're not expecting somebody to come bursting through the door."

Other residents said they feel the policy will make students safer.

"It's going to let everybody know that if you come into our school and you threaten our children or staff, we're ready for you," said Mary Hartmann. "I think those signs that say ‘No Guns Allowed' say ‘hey, we're not armed in here.'"

 "Our kids need to feel safe," said Sandra Foster. "That is the main thing. Our children need to be safe when they're not in our hands."

Lyman said the program will only be used as a method of last resort.

"We never want to have to show or use those weapons," Lyman said. "We do want the public and criminals on notice that we do have weapons and we will defend ourselves."

The school district requires staff participating in the program to have addition training, both in the classroom and at the gun range. They also require volunteers in the program to go through extra interviews with the school principal and school board before allowing them to carry a concealed firearm.

Superintendent Lyman says he is confident the program will work for Westwood ISD.

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