Carman Williams

A small school district with just more than 100 students gained national attention recently with the decision to allow teachers to carry guns into the classroom.

The school board of Harrold ISD claimed the decision was a safety issue.

An isolated community 150 miles northwest of Fort Worth, board members said it could take up to half an hour for emergency responders to get to Harrold in case of a Columbine-like attack.

Teachers must have and maintain a current concealed handgun license in order to carry a gun, but still the historic decision has drawn both praise and criticism to the small Texas town.

Weatherford ISD Superintendent Deborah Cron said the decision is not one she would adopt in Weatherford schools.

“Safety and education are our top two priorities at Weatherford ISD,” Cron wrote in an e-mail. “I can’t comment on Harrold ISD because I’m not familiar the district, its administrators or its board members. I can say, however, that we promote a learning environment at WISD, and any type of weapon inside a school building does not contribute to this learning environment — unless it is carried by a law enforcement officer. We do have school resource officers at our campuses for prevention as well as school safety.”

Many parents — with or without children in the Harrold school district — are concerned the presence of a gun could make a bad situation worse, or the gun could easily be stolen by a student.

Cron agreed guns were best left in the hands of professionals.

“Police officers train extensively in the area of weapons and firearms, and they are the first to know that their first weapon is not a gun — it’s their own words as they attempt to de-escalate an individual,” Cron wrote. “A gun is used only when no other option is available to maintain personal safety and the safety of the community.”

While a majority of district administrators, like Cron, will not mirror Harrold’s actions, the decision does have some supporters.

State Senator Craig Estes published a lengthy opinion piece defending the Harrold school board.

“As their state senator, I have watched the Harrold ISD school board, administrators, faculty and staff come together to improve the school for the benefit of students,” Estes wrote. “The actions they have taken have always been with the best interests of students in mind. I have no doubt that their recent decision to allow qualified, licensed teachers to carry concealed handguns in the classroom comes from that same commitment to the best interests of the students and community they serve. ... State law grants school districts the option to allow teachers and other school personnel to carry concealed firearms on school grounds. I will oppose any attempt to take away these rights from locally elected school boards.”

The Supreme Court once banned guns from all school property, but now leaves that choice up to individual districts. Harrold is believed to be the first in the United States to allow faculty to bring guns into the classroom.

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