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Westwood ISD explains new gun policy

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ANDERSON COUNTY (KYTX) -

A 5-1 vote Tuesday night paved the way for guns on campus at the Westwood Independent School District near Palestine. It was the culmination of a three-month planning process set off by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut and a local incident that followed it.

Westwood ISD is the third district to allow guns in East Texas, following Union Grove ISD and Van ISD.

During lunch on a rainy Tuesday we found lots of kids at Westwood High--and one parent most of them know by name. Karen Garrison has helping her daughter and her friends plan the prom. She's on campus almost as much as they are.

"I'm very supportive of [the plan]," Garrison said. "I have all the faith that our administration knows what they're doing. There's been instances when they've been Johnny on the spot when things have happened."

One of those incidents was just a few days after the Sandy Hook shooting.

"We locked down the entire campus because there were rumors that there was a person with a gun in the area," Westwood Superintendent Ed Lyman said.

Lyman said the district has had to face the fact that times are changing.

"And we'll have to change with them," he said.

Lyman said the new policy requires teachers to have a concealed carry permit before being considered for carrying on campus. Then they're evaluated on temperament, judgment abilities and the way they handle a crisis. The identities of the ones who get approved to carry at school will be kept secret.

"You know there's predators in the world and there's victims in the world. I am neither and my teachers are neither one," Lyman said.

"I don't think it's anything anyone wants to do," Westwood School Board President Theresa Bambeck said.

Bambeck was the one "no" vote. She cited the words of one parent who said in a public meeting that she would miss knowing that her daughter's school was a gun-free zone.

"I wish we lived in a perfect world and we didn't have to worry about this," she said. "That is my biggest issue."

Bambeck said she'll support the district as it works to make this plan a reality. Garrison hopes it happens soon.

"It just gives me more of a peace of mind that they're safe."

Lyman said it will be several weeks before anyone is carrying on campus. The teachers who get approved will be training with law enforcement before they're allowed to bring a gun to school.

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