Thursday, July 27, 2023

Texas School Displays Signs Indicating Armed Staff on Premises

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Groesbeck, Texas, situated almost midway between Dallas and Houston, hosts an Independent School District (ISD) that has been running a school guardian program for close to a year. On July 17, 2023, Groesbeck ISD publicized their guardian initiative with signs displayed on their premises. This popular Texan program enables school staff members to receive training and armament to react to deadly threats within the school premises before the arrival of the police. This initiative is deemed more cost-effective than School Resource Officers (certified police officers), with one guardian costing around $1,000 annually compared to the $100,000 for an SRO. Thus, a school district can afford 100 guardians at the price of one SRO.

The Groesbeck ISD Superintendent, Anthony Figueroa, is a firm supporter of the program. According to the press release from the Groesbeck Independent School District, the program's visibility has been increased with signs indicating, "ATTENTION: GISD STAFF ARE ARMED AND TRAINED TO PROTECT OUR STUDENTS."

The program was instituted in response to the unfortunate incidents of school shootings across the country, leading to the necessary preparedness for such unfortunate events. The Guardians, ISD staff members, have undergone rigorous training and must meet strict requirements. To prevent them from being potential targets, their identities remain confidential.

By publicizing the program and installing signs across the campus, the district aims to inform the community and signify that they are not an "easy target." 

Anthony Figueroa, the superintendent, has experience with the Guardian program from his previous three districts, suggesting his confidence in the system and a broader acceptance in Texas. He states, "I am proud that GISD had this program when I arrived. My responsibility is to ensure we properly train our Guardians and that we properly communicate this program to our community."

As of October 2022, around 450 out of 1022 school districts in Texas participated in the Guardian program. Thus far, none of these schools has experienced a mass killing. 

Prominently displaying the signs at the entrances aims to deter potential killers who often desire high victim counts for notoriety. Having armed protectors on site hampers their ability to plan such attacks. As most casualties occur within the initial moments of these incidents, having immediate responders can save lives.

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