The 2023 school year is fast approaching for school districts throughout the state. In addition to the usual rush to gather supplies, prepare their classrooms and handle administrative procedures, schools are facing a new, even more stressful task: Hiring armed security officers. As of Sept. 1, every school campus in Texas must employ at least one.
New law: armed guards on all campuses
In June, Gov. Abbot signed HB 3 into law. It requires every school district in Texas to provide armed security guards for every K-12 school campus. This is no small task, especially for large districts, some of which include more than 45 individual schools. Some districts have chosen to partner with municipal police departments, hire outside peace officers or contract with private security agencies. Districts that cannot meet the requirement by the deadline may petition for a good-cause exception that either waives the necessity to hire an armed guard or extends their deadline to find one.
The challenges of HB 3
Many members of the public have praised HB 3 for providing much-needed security to schools in the wake of several high-profile school shootings. However, others raise issues related to practicality, civil rights and safety. Some of the conflicts that have arisen regarding HB 3 include:
- Lack of personnel for security staff
- Lack of funding to pay a security guard’s wages
- Drafting employment agreements or contracting agreements
- Civil rights issues regarding the Second Amendment
- Parental concern over armed staff on campus
Without a doubt, parents of students in each district will express strong opinions in favor or against HB 3 at upcoming school board meetings and through other avenues. It will be up to each district to handle the matter to the best of its abilities and according to its own unique needs.