AUSTIN -- On Sept. 1 the “Protection of Texas Children Act” officially became law, but the training program to arm voluntary school marshals isn’t done yet.
When Governor Rick Perry signed the bill, drafted by Dallas Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) in June, he directed the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) to complete the training program by Jan. 1, 2014.
KVUE sat with TCLEOSE Chief Kim Vickers to get an update on the training program progress.
“It's a major undertaking to completely create a new license. A whole new program takes some work,” said Vickers.
“The hardest part is determining what subjects are you going to put in there," he said.
Ultimately TCLEOSE experts decided to require three subjects for school marshals: a mental health evaluation, active shooter knowledge and firearms proficiency for a total of 80 hours of training.
“If 80 hours is what it needs to be, I think we're going to make the best use of those 80 hours that you can get,” said Vickers.
Vickers says TCLEOSE is 70 percent finished with the school marshals training program.
School marshals must have a CHL and be a current district employee, "not just somebody who comes in off the street to be a school marshal,” he added.
Only the school principal, law enforcement and district administrators would know the identity of the school marshals.
Schools would be limited to one marshal for every 400 students. Their weapon would remain under lock and key, but within immediate reach, such as a safe in the classroom -- if the marshal is a teacher.
Their ammunition must be designed to disintegrate upon contact with hard surfaces, limiting the risk of shots that might ricochet or go through a wall.
The cost for training would fall on whoever volunteers to serve as school marshal. Districts could, however, chose to reimburse them for training.
The State of Texas is paying to develop the training program and manuals through TCLEOSE.
There has been opposition to the law, however, including Dallas ISD Police Chief Craig Miller.
“I do not believe a teacher equipped with a couple hours of training should be put in a situation where they have to make a difference in a life or death decision,” said Miller.
But Vickers says this training can save lives, especially in a rural situation where first responders may take a longer time to arrive.
“I can try to ensure that the product that comes out of this is a quality product that will do the best that we can do to protect our kids, including my grandkids.”
Austin ISD and Round Rock ISD tell KVUE they will not participate in the school marshals program.