Plano schools racing against time to arm marshals and meet state’s security requirements

Plano, Texas – In a bid to meet the new state requirements for armed security presence on all public school campuses, Plano Independent School District has chosen to implement the school marshal program. Despite its earnest effort to adhere to the mandate, the district, like many others, will not meet the state’s stipulated deadline.

Plano ISD to launch the school marshal program in effort to meet state’s security requirements

After thorough consideration of various options, Plano ISD identified the school marshal program as the most appropriate solution to address its needs. However, the hiring process for the prospective school marshals is expected to be time-consuming. It encompasses not only interviews but also psychological assessments.

Upon successful selection, the marshals will be required to undergo licensing procedures, followed by a rigorous 80-hour training program.

Plano ISD has now included an application page on its website for the school marshal program, where it highlights the desirable qualification of ‘retired peace officer preferred.’

Kevin Keating, Chief of Safety and Security Operations, has embarked on the search for 49 new district employees to serve as school marshals. Keating further elaborated that these new appointees would be exclusively tasked with ensuring safety and security within the school premises.

The decision to implement this program comes in response to a new state law that mandates all Texas school districts to have at least one armed guard on every school campus, effective from Sept. 1.

The marshals will be licensed and regulated by the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement, the agency responsible for licensing police officers in the state. This measure is indicative of the state’s ongoing commitment to ensuring the safety and security of its educational institutions.

“They provide the training. They have certain requirements in the school marshal license,” Keating said.

Potential school marshals will be required to undergo rigorous interview process followed by a psychological examination

Before qualifying as potential school marshals, applicants in the Plano Independent School District must undergo a rigorous interview process followed by a psychological examination. Those who successfully pass these steps will then be placed on a waiting list to complete the mandated 80-hour training program.

Despite these efforts, Plano, like Dallas ISD and numerous other districts, will not be able to fully meet the requirements set forth in the new law by the designated deadline of Sept. 1. Consequently, the district has submitted a request for an exception, outlining an alternative plan detailing how it will ultimately achieve compliance.

Until the full roster of school marshal positions is occupied, Plano ISD will rely on regular visits from on- and off-duty police officers at its elementary schools throughout the school day, as these campuses lack dedicated school resource officers (SROs). Meanwhile, all secondary schools are already staffed with SROs.

“In the meantime, we have very good relationships with our local law enforcement partners so we will continue the procedures we have in place until we get the program up and running,” Keating said.

A neighboring district in Collin County, McKinney ISD, is similarly waiting for its school marshals to receive licensing. Since the position was advertised in June, McKinney has been actively recruiting and hiring retired peace officers for its elementary schools, though the on-boarding process remains ongoing.

In a recent announcement, McKinney ISD disclosed its intention to request a state exception, permitting the district’s security personnel to be armed. Additionally, private security firm L&P Global Security in Dallas has entered into a contract with McKinney ISD to provide nine armed security officers by Sept. 1.

However, numerous districts have voiced concerns over the financial burden associated with implementing the new program. Plano ISD estimates that the school marshal program will cost the district a substantial $4.1 million. Despite this, the state has allocated only $1.1 million to support them.

Clay Tran

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