Tonight the West ISD school board is discussing whether to let employees carry concealed handguns in school. Since last year’s fertilizer plant explosion in West, many of the district’s classrooms have been moved into portables. That has some school officials worried about safety.
West ISD is building new facilities that are scheduled to be complete in late 2015 or early 2016. But until then, many of West’s middle and high school students have been relocated into 28 portables. West school board president Larry Hykel says that could leave students vulnerable.
"Our temporary campus is so accessible from all sides and there’s gosh almighty there’s so many places to hide there that we don’t really know if it did occur, we would be caught off guard I believe over there," Hykel said.
Last year the Texas legislature passed a law that lets school districts designate teachers, administrators or other employees as school marshals. That means they can carry concealed handguns on campus if they have a valid CHL license. West ISD Superintendent Marty Crawford says in light of recent school shootings across the country, it’s something to look into.
"The global conversation is: how can we protect our schools and our students and our staff because of the way society has turned," Crawford said.
Most recently, a student shot and killed another student before killing himself in Troutdale, Oregon. According to advocacy group Every Town for Gun Safety there have been 74 school shootings since the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary in Connecticut in December of 2012.
Crawford says the district hasn’t decided on any policy and won’t vote on the issue tonight. In addition to the school marshal program, the district is also considering creating a small police force.
"The deterrent is to meet a gunman face to face with another physical threat. So that’s what we’re looking at," Crawford said.
The West Board of Trustees meets tonight at 6:30. For KWBU News in Waco, I’m Ryland Barton