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Union Grove superintendent stand behind school signs

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GLADEWATER (KYTX) - An East Texas superintendent still stands behind signs in front of his campuses, warning intruders their staff members are armed.

Union Grove ISD is about 12 miles away from the closest law enforcement. That's one of the reasons the signs were put up a few weeks ago, to keep students safe.

"Somebody has to protect them," says Gladewater resident Mary Smith. She says every day, she worries about the safety of her grandchildren -- all 15 of them!

"They range in age from 1 to 9," she says.

It's still hard for her to think about the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in December.

"I was heartbroken. I was just devastated for them. It was terrible."

The terrifying shootings turned her thoughts to her own grandchildren.

"I worried about their safety in school," Smith says.

It's why she's glad a local school district is putting up signs to ward off intruders.

"I think it's a good idea because that way maybe it will make someone think twice about coming on campus with a gun," she says.

Union Grove Superintendent Brian Gray says, "It's a deterrent for anybody who would want to come on our campus, and the community is whole heartedly supportive of our decision."

Gray says he made the decision to put the signs up after lots of community meetings.

"A lot of thought has gone into this whole process."

He says the area is rural and his schools need to be able to respond quickly to danger.

"The route we've taken, the community has supported it and I think we're prepared," Gray says. 

He's says there have been some negative reactions from other areas of the state, but says his focus isn't on other school districts. It's on his own.

"At the end of the day, what we want to do is protect our kids," he says.

To do so, he's armed selected members of his staff, who have already been through extensive training.

"As long as they're trained and they know exactly what they're doing I think that would be the best thing," Smith said. "That way you know they're protected by somebody!"

Gray says the training his staff members go through is continuous so they're always ready for an emergency situation.

The community does not know which staff members have guns on campus. That knowledge is limited to the team of people who have been trained together for emergency situations.

The other East Texas school districts that allow staff members to carry weapons are Westwood ISD, Van ISD, and Cayuga ISD.

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