After trustees passed a new policy permitting staff with previous law enforcement experience to carry firearms on campus, the Sherman Independent School District has clarified its “guardian plan” policy regarding the storage of ammunition in relation to program-issued handguns.
“The ammunition and the firearm will be on the person — the firearm will just not be loaded,” Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Tyson Bennett said Friday.
Sherman ISD’s board of trustees unanimously approved the policy in 6-0 vote at the body’s regular monthly meeting on Monday night. Under the guardian plan, current district staff who have previously served as certified peace officers and were honorably discharged from duty are able to carry a concealed handgun. Participation in the program is voluntary and anonymous. Those who take part in the program must undergo a psychological evaluation, as well as firearm proficiency and active-shooter trainings conducted by the Sherman Police Department.
“Our purpose for even considering this plan was, No. 1, about the priority we place on the safety of students and staff,” Sherman ISD Superintendent David Hicks said on Monday night. “And it’s a proactive approach to considering all of our resources, all of our options.”
A representative of Sherman ISD previously told the Herald Democrat that three employees of the district are eligible to participate in the program. Bennett said he could not confirm that figure and would not say whether any staff expressed interest in participating because revealing such information could potentially compromise the integrity of the program.
“I think whenever that happens, there may be misconceptions, misunderstandings because we’ve not provided a significant amount of information, but it’s for the purpose of protecting the safety and security of the program and the individuals participating in it,” Bennett said.
Sherman Police Department officers currently provide daily security at three of the district’s schools — Piner Middle School, Dillingham Intermediate School and Sherman High School. Officers are not permanently assigned to the campuses, but may request to work at the schools for an additional shift or on their days off. In June, the Sherman Police Department announced that it would station an officer at Sherman High each day of the school week for the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year. Current security services are paid for by the district at a cost of roughly $180,000 each year and payment is distributed directly to the officers.
According to the Texas Education Agency, public school districts within the state can adopt other approaches to campus security. Districts can reach an agreement with government agencies, such as a local police department, to appoint part-time or full-time school resource officers. They may also opt to assemble their own district police department or contract with a private security team.