Legislature sets requirements for school safety certification
VAN ZANDT COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -
One of the many bills that passed during the 83rd legislative session has to do with school safety - in particular, how teachers and school personnel who are allowed to carry guns on campus should be trained.
The Texas School Safety Training Act has the safety of teachers and students in mind, but it's actually aimed toward concealed handgun license instructors, requiring them to obtain additional certification in school safety.
Training teachers how to properly use guns is something the instructors at the Canton-based Tactical & Defensive of Texas have been doing for several months now.
"Because of the Connecticut shooting that happened a few months ago, we decided that we would just reach out to the general public and the teachers specifically and offer free classes to all those that would come," said Jim Lynch, a senior instructor at Tactical & Defensive of Texas.
Lynch and his instructors gave free CHL instruction to at least 400 teachers this spring, and while he says they can't offer free classes anymore, he says he and his instructors are more than willing to go through any additional training the state might require to continue training teachers safely.
The bill says the school safety certification course must include between 15 and 20 hours of instruction.
If Governor Perry signs the bill, CHL instructors like those at Tactical & Defensive of Texas would have to provide teachers training in the protection of students, interaction with first responders, tactics for denying an intruder entry into a classroom, and methods for increasing accuracy under duress.
They are guidelines Lynch says are important for teachers to know.
"The extra training will get them to a point where they feel very comfortable with a firearm, carrying it on their body," he said.
But it's still up to a school district to decide whether to allow teachers to conceal carry on campus.
Van ISD implemented a guardian plan back in January, allowing certain personnel on each campus to conceal carry, but the district is conducting its own ongoing training.
"We're looking at quarterly trainings, which again is above and beyond what even law enforcement do on a training basis," said Van ISD Superintendent Don Dunn. "So we really want to make sure that those that are carrying are well-prepared in case they ever have to use it."
Dunn says the legislation is an important step in school safety.
"The state is recognizing that there are gaps in security, and each district is different and that they're going to have to evaluate their own plan," he said. "But at least the state is on-board with allowing us to do that now."
The bill still needs to be signed by Governor Perry. If he does so, it would take effect on September 1.