HUFFMAN, Texas (FOX 26) - This new school year, there’s a dramatic increase in school marshals in Texas.
The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) says in June, there were 33 statewide. Now, there are 112. Another 50 or so have completed the training requirements but have not been appointed by a school district to serve. In order to eligible, the candidate must work at the school, have a valid license to carry, complete a psychological exam and 80 hours of training.
A spokeswoman with the commission says the spike is connected to the shooting at Santa Fe High School.
Huffman Independent School District approved to move forward with the school marshal program in May. Shirley Dupree, spokesperson for the district, says there had been talk about ramping up security at schools for several years.
In a statement to FOX 26, she wrote:
Last year we added a security vestibule at each campus and prior to that, we added an additional [school resource officer] for a total of 2 [school resource officers] in our district. Huffman is the smallest district in Harris County and remains unincorporated...no police department. Given this, and in light of recent school shootings, we felt strongly that we needed to move forward at this time by adding this critical layer of security to give the greatest protection possible for our students.
Last week, the district installed new signs at school entrances warning that staff may be armed.
The district says the community has been “extremely supportive.”
“I think it’s great that people are willing to step up and arm themselves because I think that’s what we need at the schools,” said Ashlee Wheeler whose son is in 7th grade.
Dupree says Huffman ISD school marshals do receive a stipend to offset their personal time requirements for training during the summer and throughout the school year.