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District increases school safety with adoption of new policy

The Denton ISD Board of School Trustees unanimously approved a new policy that would increase the safety and security of students, teachers and staff on campus. The policy allows current employees who are commissioned law enforcement agents or have extensive training in law enforcement to carry a concealed firearm on them, including while on school property.

 

“This was not a decision we made lightly,” said Dr. Jamie Wilson, superintendent of schools. “After careful consideration and lengthy discussion, we thought this was a solution that would enhance the safety and security at specific campuses.”

 

The policy, which goes into effect immediately, requires participating employees to maintain their current certifications with the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement and undergo the same mandatory training as the district’s school resource officers. Denton ISD partners with six law enforcement agencies to provide school resource officers on 15 campuses.

 

Current employees that meet the criteria are eligible to utilize the policy, but they would not receive extra pay. The district would cover the cost of their training and assist with their certifications. The policy does not cover private citizens or employees who have their concealed handgun license (CHL) to be armed while on campus.

 

 “We’re literally talking about a handful of people, but if we do have them, with that kind of expertise and that kind of training, then we should allow them to add another layer of protection to our students and schools,” said Dr. Wilson.

 

Denton ISD has renewed its focus on safety and security since the beginning of the school year with the requirement of all high school students to wear identification in a visible manner, a change to the elementary student drop-off procedures, the construction of three secure entries at Guyer High School and the current installation of secure access systems to all elementary schools. 

 

Last spring the district launched “A Hero’s Helping,” a program that encourages officers who are on patrol to stop at their neighborhood school and eat a free meal. While on campus, officers are encouraged to park their patrol cars in the front drive and be highly visible while on campus.

 

The district plans to make additional improvements through the replacement and addition of cameras across the district, refurbishing new secure vestibules at two schools and the installation of software that will allow law enforcement agencies access to camera feeds prior to entering a campus. All of these measures are part of the more than $20 million earmarked for safety and security that was part of the 2018 bond package overwhelming approved by voters in May.