Officials with Ralls Independent School District have continued a policy that was implemented to improve the safety of students and staff. Signs out in front of the three campuses notify visitors that some staff members are armed.
The sign reads: “Please be aware that the staff at Ralls ISD are armed and may use whatever force is necessary to protect our students.”
Superintendent Chris Wade said the policy was introduced after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.
“The school board and i looked at it real close and decided that this was the way we wanted to help secure the safety of the staff and the students,” Wade said.
“We feel like we have done nothing but make them more secure and safer. And we’ve had great support from the community, parents, the staff, everybody was on board,” he added.
Wade said the program was voluntary.
“The employees that have been approved for this policy have been through very rigorous training prior to, and even now afterwards, we continue yearly to do training to make sure that everybody’s on the same page and keeping our skills where they need to be,” he explained.
According to Wade, the district employs just under 100 people. He declined to share how many of them were armed on a regular basis.
“I have enough that i feel safe and comfortable with the number that we have,” he said.
Mack Adams, a Ralls parent, said he was supportive of the district’s policy.
“As long as that individual is trained and has gone through extensive backgrounds, I’m very comfortable,” Adams said. “If it’s going to save your children, why not have someone there with a gun.”
Adams said other districts, like Lubbock ISD, ought to consider arming staff to add an additional layer of protection.
“I know Lubbock has multiple campuses and if they had one person they could definitely stop mass tragedy,” Adams said.
Though LISD has its own police department, Wade said Ralls ISD could not afford that.
“We didn’t have the funds to hire a police officer for every campus. If that was the case, that would be great. So we took this avenue, and it has really worked out well for us,” Wade said.
Ralls ISD joined many other districts nationwide to put a similar policy in place.
Claude ISD, just south of Amarillo, allowed staff to be armed in November. The signs were put up in time for the start of the 2016-17 school year.
Wade said his district has received 100 percent support, with no complaints.
“The community understands that we have the safety of the kids and the staff as a top priority. We did our research, we held public meetings, the result of those was very positive,” he said.