Texas School District Says ‘No’ to Armed Guards, but ‘Yes’ to Its Superintendent's Pay Raise

(Kin Man Hui, San Antonio Express-News via AP)

It appears at least one Texas school district might have some questionable priorities when it comes to ensuring the safety of students under its care. The district in question issued a request for an exemption from a recently passed state law requiring them to employ armed security personnel on school campuses, claiming it lacked the funding to comply with the measure. Yet, it seems the district’s coffers weren’t so empty that it did not stop them from granting a raise to its superintendent.

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The Ector County Independent School District (ECISD) passed a resolution in mid-August seeking an exemption from a new state law that requires every district to provide an armed guard at every school building, citing a deficient budget and lack of funds to afford the guards. Now, the district is giving its superintendent a pay increase.

The resolution, passed August 15, seeks an exemption from the armed security requirements of House Bill (HB) 3 by state Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) which was part of the state’s effort to increase school security in response to recent mass shootings, including the massacre at Robb Elementary in Uvalde.

The new law requires every district to provide armed security at every school building within the district, however, there is a provision in which districts may seek an exemption from the law if they do not have sufficient funds to pay for the security.

“The District’s non-compliance is due to a lack of available funding. The District is currently operating under a deficit budget and is not able to finance hiring enough peace officers to immediately and fully comply,” the resolution says, adding they will provide a District police officer at every campus when funding becomes available.

Under the new law, districts can also allow employees to get certified under the School Marshal program, but the district wasn’t too keen on this idea, according to Wallace Dunn, a local firearms instructor:

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HB 3 also allows for districts to comply by allowing employees to become certified under the School Marshal program, and local firearms instructor Wallace Dunn reportedly offered to provide the school marshal training to the district at no cost but said his offer was met with “a cold shoulder” by Superintendent Scott Muri and other district officials. Many other districts have taken this option.

Yet, the district had no problem increasing the superintendent’s salary from $309,927 to $319,224.

Texas’ government passed the law earlier this year in response to last year’s school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

Texas lawmakers quietly passed a sweeping mandate for school safety measures, including a requirement to post an armed security officer at every school and provide mental health training for certain district employees.

Texas House Bill 3, which was signed into law June 14 by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, went into effect on Sept. 1, and comes in the wake of the horrific Uvalde school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in May 2022.

In the bill, each school district campus is required to armed [sic] security guard which includes: a school district peace officer; a school resource officer; a commissioned peace officer employee; a school marshal; or a school district employee who has completed school safety training and carries a handgun on their person on school premises.

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In response to several school districts indicating that they lack the funding necessary to comply with the law, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan explained that Gov. Abbott would be convening a special session in October, in which the legislature would look at increasing funding for those schools that are struggling to add armed security to their staff.

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