Posted: Saturday, May 4, 2013 7:27 pm
AUSTIN – On Friday, House Bill 1009, the Protection of Texas Children Act, was passed by the Texas House of Representatives. The legislation, authored by Rep. Jason Villalba (District 114), creates a new subset of law enforcement officer, called School Marshals, who will serve as the last line of defense should an armed attacker threaten the lives of children in public schools. The School Marshal program will be optional - providing for a rigorous standard of training and certification to expand law enforcement into schools - should a school district choose to participate.
“School safety is a concern for every parent and a challenge faced by all school districts,” said Villalba. “I have a daughter currently attending a public school in Dallas and soon my other daughter will follow in her footsteps. I am comforted knowing that Dallas ISD schools have the resources to employ a police department to protect our schools, but not all districts have that level of resources. This legislation provides school districts with a cost-effective school security option that includes robust training tailored to protect children in schools during an active shooter situation. I am honored that my colleagues in the Texas House of Representatives considered this legislation and agreed that the School Marshal plan is a thoughtful and responsible school security option for Texas school districts.”
Main provisions of the Protection of Texas Children Act:
• The program will be optional for school districts - NOT mandated by the state.
• The plan expands law enforcement into schools by providing accessibility to comprehensive and specified training for volunteer school employees, appointed by the school district, so that they may serve as licensed law enforcement officers in schools ("School Marshals").
• School Marshal training will include mental health evaluation, active shooter and emergency situation training, and firearms proficiency requirements, in each case, as developed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE). These training standards will require 80 hours of classroom and simulation modules, ten times the amount currently required by CHL standards.
• License renewal will be required every two years, which such license renewal would include mental health reevaluation, active shooter and emergency situation recertification, and firearms proficiency training as developed by TCLEOSE.
• School Marshals will only be authorized to act in response to an active shooter or other immediate threat to human life on school grounds. Any firearm accessible to a School Marshal will remain locked in a safe, within immediate reach of the School Marshal, if he or she works in a classroom or in the direct presence of children.
• Participants in the program will be volunteers - a teacher, administrator, coach, or other member of the faculty - who receives permission from the school administration to serve as a School Marshal.
• The cost of training and certification will be paid by the School Marshal, unless grant money is identified and directed for this purpose. These costs will not paid for out of general state revenue.
• School Marshals will be required to use frangible ammunition, designed to disintegrate upon contact with hard surfaces, minimizing the risk of errant shots that ricochet or might otherwise go through an interior wall.
• School Marshals will be covert - known only to the head school administrator and local law enforcement.
Rep. Villalba worked closely with law enforcement and school groups such as TCLEOSE, the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA), the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT), the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), and many others to develop a plan that is tailored, reasonable, thoughtful, and responsive to a serious challenge facing Texas and the nation.