There's one item Houston-area school officials say teachers can leave at home when classes resume later this month: Their handguns.
Houston school districts said there's no way they'll follow the lead of a tiny North Texas school system that may be the first in the nation to let employees pack heat at their lone 110-student K-12 campus.
Harrold Superintendent David Thweatt said his school board unanimously passed the policy last October to protect employees and students in the case of an armed intruder or hostage situation.
He wouldn't say how many teachers went through the authorization process, which includes receiving a Texas concealed handgun license and undergoing crisis management training.
Thweatt said that despite the outrage from his public school peers, Harrold stands by its decision. The first few months of the new policy have gone smoothly, he said.
"We think we have acted cautiously and wisely," said Thweatt. "Others should be free to govern their school districts as they see fit."
Thweatt said the small community is a 30-minute drive from the sheriff's office, leaving students and teachers without protection. He said the district's lone campus is situated just 500 feet from heavily trafficked U.S. 287, which could make it a target.
Texas' penal code prohibits firearms at schools "unless pursuant to the written regulations or written authorization of the institution."
Alief school board member Sarah Winkler, vice president for the Texas Association of School Boards, said she didn't even realize that school trustees could vote to override the law. Individual school boards shouldn't have that type of power, she said.
"This is just appalling," Winkler said. "One accident, and I don't know how the school board would live with themselves."
She wasn't the only Houston educator stunned by the policy.
"It's a disaster waiting to happen," said Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers. "It's right up there with worst ideas in the history of modern education." . . . .
Monday, August 18, 2008
The 4th R in Harrold, Texas: Revolvers
Thirty miles from civilization, the braintrust running the schools in Harrold, Texas voted to allow teachers to carry heaters in order to protect children from the bands of "armed maniacs" imagined to be traveling the nearby highway. Now who's the armed maniacs?