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'May use whatever force is necessary': When it comes to school security, some Central Texas districts arm themselves

Thorndale ISD is one of multiple Texas school districts with armed staff members.
Credit: John Delacerda
Sign outside Thorndale Elementary School alerting visitors to school guardian program.

THORNDALE, Texas — The deaths of 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde is once again stirring debate over how these tragedies can be prevented.

Most of the debate centers around guns with one side arguing for ways to limit access to them while others want more guns at schools in the form of armed guards or school staff members. At least one Central Texas school district has chosen the latter.

Thorndale Independent School District implemented the School Guardian Program beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, according to Superintendent Adam Ivy.

The program, which Ivy said was overwhelmingly approved by the school board, allows for a select number of staff to be armed.

Ivy said the identities of the armed staff members and how many of them there are is kept confidential.

"We have excellent training we do on a regular basis," Ivy said. "It's a great program. I'm glad we have it."

Ivy said there was no one event that led to implementing the program but that it had overwhelming community support.

One Thorndale Elementary parent, John Delacerda, posted a picture to Facebook of a sign outside the school that alerts people to the fact that some staff are armed. His post, which was shared thousands of times, was in support of the program but the reaction was mixed.

Thorndale ISD where my kids go to school. Time for all schools to follow and protect kids.

Posted by John Delacerda on Wednesday, May 25, 2022

According to the Texas Association of School Boards, the Guardian Plan is allowed under the authority of the Gun-Free School Zones Act and the Texas Penal Code.

The Guardian Plan is different than what's known as the School Marshal Program. It allows a school board to appoint one or more marshals for each campus.

A day after the deadly Uvalde school shooting, Bosque County Sheriff Trace Hendricks sent a letter to all districts in his county asking them implement the Marshal Program.

RELATED: Bosque County Sheriff calls on school districts to implement School Marshal Program

A school marshal must complete 80 hours of instruction conducted by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

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