AUSTIN, TX (OFFICE OF JASON VILLALBA) — On Wednesday, Texas State Representative Jason Villalba (District 114) announced that House Bill 1009, the Protection of Texas Children Act, was passed by the Senate. Senator Kelly Hancock and Senator Dan Patrick, Chairman of the Education Committee, sponsored the bill in the upper chamber.
The legislation creates a new subset of law enforcement officer, called School Marshals, who will serve as the last line of defense should an armed attacker threaten the lives of children in public schools. The School Marshal program will be optional - providing for a rigorous standard of training and certification to expand law enforcement into schools - should a school district choose to participate.
The legislation now heads to Governor Rick Perry to be signed into law.
“I am deeply concerned for the safety of my daughters and all Texas school children during the school day. I am, however, comforted knowing that Dallas ISD schools have the resources to employ a police department to protect our schools,” said Representative Villalba. “Unfortunately not all districts have the resources to provide that level of protection. This legislation provides school districts with a cost-effective school security option that includes robust training tailored to protect children in schools during an active shooter situation. Crafting this legislation was a long process of engaging with stakeholders and building coalitions of support, but today's passage of the School Marshal plan will provide a practical, thoughtful, and responsible school security option for all Texas school districts.”
“With the passage of House Bill 1009, the Protection of Children Act, school districts are now given another option in how to protect our most precious resource, our children.
The bill allows local school districts to designate a school employee as a school marshal who could respond to life-threating situations before police arrived, possibly saving many lives, ” Sen. Hancock said. “Under provisions of the law, local school districts would not be prohibited from adopting policies that further protect students and teachers if those districts chose to allow greater freedom for gun rights.”
Main provisions of the Protection of Texas Children Act:
· The program will be optional for school districts - NOT mandated by the state.
· The plan expands law enforcement into schools by providing comprehensive and specified training for certain volunteer school employees so that they may serve as licensed law enforcement officers in schools ("School Marshals").
· School Marshal training will include mental health evaluation, active shooter and emergency situation training, and firearms proficiency requirements, in each case, as developed by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE). These training standards will require 80 hours of classroom and simulation modules, ten times the amount currently required by CHL standards.
· License renewal will be required every two years, which such license renewal would include mental health reevaluation, active shooter and emergency situation recertification, and firearms proficiency training as developed by TCLEOSE.
· School Marshals will only be authorized to act in response to an active shooter or other immediate threat to human life on school grounds. Any firearm accessible to a School Marshal will remain locked in a safe, within immediate reach of the School Marshal, if he or she works in a classroom or in the direct presence of children.
· Participants in the program will be volunteers - a teacher, administrator, coach, or other member of the faculty - who receives permission from the school administration to serve as a School Marshal.
· The cost of training and certification will be paid by the School Marshal, unless grant money is identified and directed for this purpose. These costs will not paid for out of general state revenue.
· School Marshals will be required to use frangible ammunition, designed to disintegrate upon contact with hard surfaces, minimizing the risk of errant shots that ricochet or might otherwise go through an interior wall.
· School Marshals will be covert - known only to the head school administrator and local law enforcement authorities.
Rep. Villalba worked closely with law enforcement and school groups such as TCLEOSE, the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA), the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT), the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), and many others to develop a plan that is narrow, tailored, reasonable, and responsive to a serious challenge facing Texas and the nation.