Santa Fe ISD to enact Guardian Program allowing teachers to bring guns in classroom

Exterior photo of Santa Fe High School.
Exterior photo of Santa Fe High School. (KPRC2)

HOUSTON – The Santa Fe Independent School District Board of Trustees approved the implementation of the Guardian Program Friday, according to a release from the district. The program allows approved individuals to carry a weapon at schools and other buildings within the district.

“As a line of defense measure, the Guardian Program adds to the safety and security infrastructure, training, and resource enhancement that have been taking place across the district over the past several years,” the district wrote in the release.

Santa Fe ISD initially approved the policy during a board meeting in January 2020, joining more than 300 school districts across Texas to implement the program since 2013, according to the district.

Implementation of the program will take place after spring break next week and will include adding signage at schools indicating that personnel on campus may be armed.

However, there will be no additional impacts on the students, staff or the day-to-day school routine, per the release.

The adoption and implementation of the Guardian Program were recommended to the board by a safety subcommittee made up of Santa Fe ISD parents and community members, the district said.

The implementation of the program is in response to a deadly shooting that left 10 people dead and 13 people injured at Santa Fe High School in May 2018. The suspect, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, has been charged with capital murder of multiple persons in connection with the massacre.

Pagourtzis was declared incompetent to stand trial in November. Doctors at North Texas State Hospital in Vernon are currently working to try to restore his competency. KPRC 2 has covered the Santa Fe High School massacre and aftermath extensively. See our full coverage here.

Here are some of the guidelines for Santa Fe ISD’s Guardian Program:

• 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.

Here is the full statement from Santa Fe ISD:

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