By Terry Britt
Van ISD has become the first school district in Van Zandt County to authorize specific employees to carry a concealed handgun.
The decision by the Van ISD School Board came after two lengthy closed sessions Monday night. The concealed handgun authorization is part of a local policy adopted at the meeting.
“An integral part of VISD’s safety plan will include training for district personnel. Select employees will receive CHL (Concealed Handgun License) licensure and intensive training on a continuing basis,” VISD Superintendent Don Dunn said.
Allowing some employees to be armed while on campus has become a big talking point among school officials nationwide following the deaths of 20 children and six adults in a mass shooting at Sandy Brook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.
Dunn said the board’s decision will eliminate a five-minute defense gap at each campus should an armed intruder enter the building.
“From the moment an armed intruder steps into our buildings until the police arrive is about a five minute window. At this point, our kids and our staff are completely defenseless.
“We now have the ability to protect our students and staff during this critical time period,” Dunn noted.
He stressed that only authorized personnel will be allowed to carry a concealed handgun. However, he declined to say how many employees would be authorized.
“I don’t want to divulge anything specific. I don’t want any intruder to know how few or how many we have carrying a concealed handgun on each campus.”
Dunn also said the matter had been cleared with the school district’s attorney.
The policy also allows for CHL personnel at school-sponsored or school-sanctioned events, and at school board meetings.
“By approving this policy, the board addressed concerns about effective and timely response to emergency situations at schools, including invasion of the schools by an armed outsider, hostage situations, students who are armed and posing a direct threat of physical harm to themselves or others, and similar circumstances,” Dunn stated in a press release.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the board approved the installation of a new lock system that will further upgrade campus and classroom safety.
Dunn described it as a “push-button lock system” for individual classrooms, and it will allow teachers to safely lock the classroom door from the inside in the event of a lockdown situation.
Dunn said the district would “move quickly” to install the new lock system at each campus.
Van ISD To Allow Some Staff To Carry Concealed Handgun
By Terry Britt