Santa Fe ISD approves having guns in classrooms under Guardian Program

Nearly two years after the Santa Fe High School massacre, Santa Fe ISD has approved teachers having guns in classrooms.

TIMELINE: What happened that horrific day

The SFISD Board of Trustees confirmed the news on Friday citing the Guardian Program.

In a statement SFISD said: "Under Texas Penal Code Section 46.03, the Guardian Program grants the Board of Trustees the authority to authorize certain individuals to carry a weapon on district property. As a last line of defense measure, the Guardian Program adds to the safety and security infrastructure, training, and resource enhancements that have been taking place across the district over the past several years. The implementation will officially take place following Spring Break. Visibly, you will notice the addition of signage around our school buildings indicating that personnel on campus may be armed. There will be no additional impacts from this implementation on our students, staff, or the day-to-day school routine."

A safety subcommittee made up of Santa Fe ISD parents and community members reportedly recommended the Guardian Program to the school board.

Santa Fe school board president Rusty Norman says the district began looking into having a guardian program five years ago before the mass shooting in May of 2018 that claimed the lives of two teachers and eight students.

"There will be no one forced to participate," Norman said. "It will be strictly voluntary."

All district employees can volunteer.

They must have a license to carry a weapon in Texas.

Norman says the volunteers will undergo psychological evaluations that are similar to those given to police officer applicants.

"Once they volunteer then they will open themselves up for additional scrutiny," he said.

While everyone is being made aware of the program itself the identities of the guardians will not be common knowledge.

"There will only be a few people in this district who will now who the guardians are," said Norman.

"I think that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of," said Rhonda Hart.

Hart lost her daughter Kimberly Vaughn in the Santa Fe mass shooting. She's against the guardian program.

"You're adding more guns into the school into a location where there already was a gun violence event," Hart said.

MORE: State lawmakers on making schools safer after Santa Fe shooting

Santa Fe ISD joins more than 300 school districts across Texas to implement the Guardian Program.

Some important information about the Guardian Program is available below:

• Guardian Program participation is strictly voluntary - no employee will be required to participate, and the district may revoke an employee’s participation at any time.

• Employees who are currently licensed to carry a weapon in the State of Texas are eligible to volunteer and apply to be considered for the Guardian Program.

• The selection process will require criminal background screening, as well as psychological evaluations utilizing the same process and standards as police officer applicants.

• Approved applicants for the Guardian Program will be required to complete a rigorous application process including a minimum of 40 hours of comprehensive classroom/live fire course instruction meeting the same marksmanship qualification standards as a Santa Fe ISD Police Officer.

• Program participants will be required to complete annual training including live fire weapons practice and marksmanship qualifications in order to maintain their eligibility for participation.

• A Guardian is considered a last line of defense for classroom teachers or district employees to protect their own life and the life of any third-party in their charge - the program is not designed for the Guardian to leave their area of responsibility and act as a first responder.

• In the interest of district security and maintaining the integrity of the program, the District will not be releasing the identity or numbers of District employees selected as Guardian program participants in accordance with applicable provisions of the Texas Government Code Chapter 552.

• The implementation of the Guardian Program will take place following Spring Break with signage added around school buildings to indicate that personnel on campus may be armed.

Last year, Gov. Gregg Abbott also signed House Bill 1387, abolishing the cap on how many school marshals can carry guns at public or private schools in the wake of the Santa Fe shooting.

Before the start of this school year, Santa Fe increased its full-time school resource officers from eight to 14, its part-time officers from five to 10, and will also be adding 10 campus security assistants.

Ten people were killed by a gunman in the Santa Fe High School shooting back in May 2018. The victims included two teachers and eight students. Thirteen other people were injured.

MORE: Judge shares timeline for Santa Fe High School murder trial