A fourth ETX school district considers arming teachers on campus - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

A fourth ETX school district considers arming teachers on campus

BIG SANDY, TX (KLTV) -

Harmony ISD in Big Sandy, just West of Gilmer, would be the fourth school district in East Texas to implement a safety plan where school employees are approved to carry a concealed weapon on campus.

The district held a meeting Monday night to hear the community's opinion.

The school board polled the audience on the issue by asking for a show of hands in favor and then against arming school employees on campus.

A majority of the people in attendance raised their hand in favor of an armed teacher proposal.

Still, the district says they are not ready to  make any decisions.

"We didn't want to have a knee jerk reaction. We wanted to talk about it, discuss it with our patrons, and see where it went," says Jed Whitaker, Harmony ISD superintendent.

Monday's meeting was called so the community could voice their opinions on the issue and give the district ideas on how to keep kids safe.

"Why don't we start at the beginning and have an assessment of what we have," says a Harmony ISD teacher who spoke at the meeting.

"I think we need to secure what we have here first," says Harmony ISD's night time security guard.

Several people questioned how the board is going to make sure teachers are properly prepared to fire a weapon during an emergency.

"You actually have to be in that situation before you know if you can do it or not," one community member says.

Others at the meeting said there is no right answer and at one point heated discussion turned into an argument, causing one community member to leave.

Many at the meeting said they just want to know the facts.

"I want to have on paper what they're going to do and how they're going to take care of the children in the event that another situation might happen," says Amee Elliott, a Harmony ISD mother.

The school board says they don't have any facts right now because they have not written a proposal on arming teachers. They say they are taking this matter slowly and carefully.

"This is something that we're not taking lightly, we're not going to make a decision tonight. This is something that we're putting a lot of time and a lot of energy in to find out everything we can," says Jeremy Seahorn, a Harmony ISD school board member.

Aside from polling the audience, the board also took notes on people's concerns and suggestions. They say they'll consider those notes while trying to decide the best way to keep Harmony ISD students safe.

The school board says they will discuss arming teachers at their next board meeting in March. Harmony ISD is 10 miles away from the nearest city. The superintendent says the possibility of a slow response time from local law enforcement is one reason they are considering arming Harmony ISD employees. 

Copyright 2013 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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