In a unanimous decision earlier this month, the Brazos ISD school board authorized “certain trained and qualified employees to carry or possess firearms on campus.”
The district has about 760 students from pre-K through high school and their campuses are in Fort Bend and Austin counties, but not within city limits, making them an extended distance from city police officers who could respond to a campus incident, said Superintendent Brian Thompson.
“We took this step after much research and reflection, guided by our dedication to the safety and well-being of the students, faculty and staff under our care,” Thompson wrote in a letter to parents. “We have no higher priority.”
Thompson, who is in his second year at the helm of the district, wouldn’t answer specific questions such as how many employees will be armed or where the weapons will be stored – in order to protect those who are participating.
“Only those employees who have met all the requirements and gained final school board approval will be allowed to carry or possess a firearm on campus,” Thompson said. “They are volunteers and in order to protect them from becoming targets, their names are confidential and are not to be released. I ask that names not be guessed at or rumors passed in an attempt to protect these individuals.”
And that’s what it’s all about, the superintendent added: Safety.
“It all goes back to the commitment to school safety,” he explained. “It’s in response to being a rural community and making this the safest place for our students and employees.”
Sealy ISD is in a different situation because unlike Brazos, they have school resource officers and armed responders at each campus.
“Each individual school district has to determine what is best given their particular set of circumstances,” said Sealy ISD Superintendent Sheryl Moore. “We are fortunate that we have armed officers on all of our campuses already, as well as a great city police force, so our circumstances are different from theirs. Ultimately, it comes down to what the parents and community think is best.”
Brazos ISD is not the first school in Texas to take such measures and since the letter went home to parents Dec. 5, at least one other school district has reached out to Thompson.
“We want to keep our kids and our staff safe,” he said. “This isn’t the only way but it’s one way.”
Brazos ISD board members are listed on the district’s website as Mark Fernandez, Wayne Jetelina, Matt Demny, Myles Marek, Brian Demny, Christopher Nanez and Felix Martinez II.