LA VERNIA – On Monday night, La Vernia ISD board members voted unanimously to allow select staff members to carry concealed weapons as part of a district guardian program.
The conversation about arming staff members at La Vernia ISD began in January.
“We had some unwanted visitors trying to make entry into the campus,” said Dr. Michael Duffek, director of safety and security for La Vernia ISD.
Duffek formed a committee of parents, students, teachers, law enforcement officers and administrators to entertain the thought of a so-called guardian program, which the Texas Education Agency describes as arming confidential, trained school staff members.
“I was originally in Nixon when they implemented that program there,” Duffek said. “Then, I’m aware that Poth has theirs, and then I know East Central tried to do theirs, but it didn’t pass.”
On Monday, East Central ISD confirmed to KSAT that it began conversations about the program but tabled them after gauging public opinions.
“It just seems like the bad guys get in every time with their guns. So if somebody can be there ready to go to protect my child, I’m all for it,” said parent Jason Breithaupt, who has several children in La Vernia ISD schools.
Opinions like Breithaupt’s were the overwhelming majority on a survey released to La Vernia residents earlier this year.
“We’re sitting at 88% for it,” Duffek said.
However, some people don’t want to see the program in La Vernia schools.
“I don’t think that’s right at all. You know, because you never know if a teacher might have an accident or something, fall and shoot somebody, you know. You don’t know,” said resident Johnny Saldana.
Duffek said that is a valid concern and has been thought out.
“So the biggest piece is when the weapon is on that person, it’s an unchambered weapon. So that stops the accidental discharge of a weapon,” he said.
It is one of many requirements involved in the program.
To become a guardian, you must do the following:
- 20 hours of classroom training
- 20 hours at a firing range
- Pass annual psychological exams
- Already have a license to carry
- Submit to random drug tests
Duffek added that La Vernia ISD would require teachers to have been with the district for a while before being considered for the position. He said the key to the guardian program is anonymity.
“Any point the guardian is realized or somebody has found out who they are, they’ll be removed from the program. We want it completely anonymous that way. It protects them, and it protects the kids, and it protects everybody,” Duffek said.
He said the weapons would be small and concealed at all times.
In a survey, 80% of the La Vernia ISD staff expressed support, and many have already expressed interest in becoming a guardian.
“I am very confident that it’ll pass,” Duffek said.
Administrators will begin putting plans in place to interview future school guardians.
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