Yorktown ISD considers Guardian/Marshall Plan
By Roger Cowan
With the increasing incidents of school violence in recent years, many schools are looking to all options to ensure the security of their faculty and students. Yorktown ISD held a public forum Monday, June 4, to inform the community of their plans and get feedback and answer questions
There are currently two major thoughts on the techniques utilized by schools when it comes to arming teachers. The Marshall Plan, created by Texas legislation, would see the school place one marshall on their campus for every 200 students. These marshalls would receive 80 hours of Texas Commission on Law Enforcement training, a pyschological test, and firearm training. This method has seen fewer school districts in Texas utilize it due to its stringent requirements.
The more popular approach is called the Guardian Plan. Used by over 170 school districts in Texas, the Guardian Plan was started by Harrold ISD. When creating their plan, Harrold ISD took into account that in their situation, there is no law enforcement within 40 miles of their campus. With that in mind, their plan would allow teachers with a concealed carry permit to carry on campus while teaching, attending school board meetings and athletic events. The Yorktown plan would be a mixture of both.
“Schools, churches, shopping malls, and restaurants are soft targets,” stated Superintendent Chad Gee. “We have to make our school a hard target.”
Schools in our area with similar plans already active include Ganado, Fayeteville, and Nixon-Smiley. Superintendent Gee stated that he had reached out to these schools as a sort of mentor for insight on how they implemented their program, and how it was received.
Gee then asked how many in the audience were pretty sure that their local churches had armed their deacons or ushers in the wake of Sutherland Springs. The audience responded with quite a few hands raised in the affirmative.
While not every teacher would be required to have a firearm in their room, firearms that are placed in classrooms would be in a gun safe close and accessible to the educators that do wish to have it. Certain staff would be approved to conceal carry. Gee does see those teachers completing the training as required by the Marshall Plan though.
When looking at all available means to make Yorktown ISD a more secure place for the students and staff, Gee has been weighing all options since his first day on the job. From metal detectors, to school resource officers, to better secured access and cameras, nothing is brushed aside without strong consideration.
“The average time of an active shooter incident is three minutes. The average response time of law enforcement is five minutes. What happens in between?” Gee asked the audience.
Former DeWitt County Sheriff Jode Zavesky, also in attendance, summed up the overall plan perfectly by stating, “If you’re going to fix an air conditioner, you don’t take just a screw driver, you take a whole box of various tools.”
Governor Greg Abbott addressed the school violence issue with his release of a plan recently detailing his ideas for better securing schools and attending to mental health problems of potential shooters. While speaking of Abbott’s plan, Gee stated that YISD was “a step ahead, already addressing the issue months ago” as they began planning for the implementation of their Guardian Plan-style system.
At one point in the program, Gee had each table in the audience write down pros, cons, and concerns with the idea of arming teachers. After giving them time to do so, Gee went around the room having each table list one pro and discussing the item with the room. They then went around with each presenting one con, and so forth with the concerns as well. When asked for a show of hands as to who was comfortable with and would support this plan, though not unanimous, the audience support was close.
“It’s a sad day when we have to consider arming teachers in the classroom, but it’s the world we live in now, and we have to look out for the safety of our students and staff,” stated Gee afterwards.
The News-View will follow this story closely and report more pertinent details as they become available.