UPDATE: VAN (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - Concerns for the safety of children and staff prompted Van Independent School District to become the second district in East Texas to allow some employees to carry firearms on campus.
"Under Texas Penal Code 46.03(a)(1), the board authorized specific school employees and other persons to possess certain firearms on school property, at school-sponsored or school-sanctioned events, and at board meetings in accordance with board policy CKC," an email from the school district stated.
In a phone interview, Dunn said the number of employees and the identity of employees carrying would not be revealed for security reasons.
"This is something we have been thinking about for a long time. We have had security procedures in place for quite some time, but the shootings in Connecticut were the last straw to break the barrier when little kids became the target," he said.
Dunn said the district has one school resource officer currently stationed at the high school campus, but because the district is spread out, a situation at another campus could be problematic with help being minutes away.
"From the time an intruder was to walk on say our junior high campus, it would take our resource officer about five minutes to get there from the high school. What we hoped to do with this policy is to cut that five-minute window out," he said.
Dunn said people chosen to carry weapons will undergo "rigorous" training with law enforcement on how and when to use force.
"The safety and security of our kids and our staff are of the utmost concern for us and we hope this helps us address some of the issues that every district in Texas faces," he said.
Dunn said the new policy does not allow citizens to carry firearms on campuses or at events, even if they have a concealed handgun license.
Van Independent School District:
VAN (KYTX) - Van ISD maintains a network of security procedures to keep our children and staff
safe. There is no plan that guarantees 100 percent safety to all students and staff in
our schools in every situation. Because of recent school shootings in our country, the
Van ISD Board of Trustees and administration determined it necessary to review the
district's emergency plan.
After consulting with our school attorney, local law enforcement, DPS officials, and
pursuant to its authority under Texas Penal Code 46.03(a)(1), the board authorized
specific school employees and other persons to possess certain firearms on school
property, at school-sponsored or school-sanctioned events, and at board meetings in
accordance with board policy CKC(Local).
By approving this policy, the board addressed concerns about effective and timely
response to emergency situations at schools including invasion of the schools by an
armed outsider, hostage situations, students who are armed and posing a direct threat
of physical harm to themselves or others, and similar circumstances.
Please rest assured that we will remain vigilant. Van ISD will continue to do everything
we can to ensure that our children are educated in an environment that is safe,
healthy, and supportive.