A Piner Middle School teacher’s aide was arrested Wednesday after bringing an unloaded firearm into the school. The firearm, which district officials described as a handgun, was found concealed inside a backpack by Sherman Independent School District officials and law enforcement.

Despite the fact that the firearm was unloaded, district officials said they are taking the situation seriously, and an ongoing investigation could lead to the termination of the aide.

“Situations like this can lead to termination,” said Tyson Bennett, Sherman ISD assistant superintendent of finance and operations. “We take the safety of our students as top priority.”

The handgun was discovered Wednesday morning when a teacher was notified about the handgun. The teacher contacted both district officials and law enforcement. District officials said the handgun was never removed from the backpack and no students were involved.

Officials with the Sherman Police Department confirmed that the aide was found to have brought the firearm into the school, which is designated as a weapons free zone, and was arrested on charges of unlawful carrying of a weapon.

Bennett said that a select number of district personnel are allowed to carry firearms for security and defense under the district’s guardian program which started about 18 months ago. However, the aide was not a member of the program and was not authorized to have the firearm.

“Firearms and other weapons are prohibited in all Sherman ISD facilities, and the district follows the applicable state and federal laws when responding to issues of this nature,” the district said in a news release.

Since the arrest, the aide has been placed on leave, and district officials will continue to investigate the situation. During this investigation, the aide will not be allowed to return to campus.