School Safety in Texas: Interest in School Supervisors Grows After Uvalde

ROUND ROCK, Texas (KTRK) – School districts are showing increased interest in the Texas Marshal Program following the Uvalde tragedy, according to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

School marshals are district employees who have undergone training and carry weapons on campus.

The program was launched in 2013 by the state parliament.

Yet only 62 out of 1,026 school districts in the country participate. That’s only 6%.

According to TCOLE, there are a total of 256 school marshals in the state.

Their only role is to intervene in the event of an active shooter on campus, although TCOLE said they have no legal obligation to take action.

“Not everyone is cut out to be a school marshal,” said TCOLE deputy chief Cullen Grissom. “Not all teachers or staff are made to lead an armed lifestyle in a school.”

Grissom said he’s seen people start training and realized they weren’t cut out for a variety of reasons, including not feeling ready or able to shoot someone.

Applicants must be school district employees, be licensed to wear, undergo a psychological evaluation, and be approved by the district board. From there they can complete the 80-hour training.

On Monday at James Garland Walsh Middle School in Round Rock, TCOLE, school-based law enforcement and school district officials from across the state demonstrated the active rifleman training that marshal candidates go through.

In the scenario, adults pose as children sitting at tables in the library. An active gunman entered the library with a rifle and the actors ran away screaming. Seconds later, the school guards came in, shot the active shooter with a modified gun that fires a paint tracer cartridge, and took his gun. From there, law enforcement stepped in and the marshals identified themselves with their hands raised.

SEE ALSO: Texas Senator John Cornyn Speaks on Gun Safety Legislation After the Uvalde School Massacre

dr Huffman ISD Superintendent Benny Soileau serves as school marshal.

“I think in these simulation situations we prepare as much as possible,” Soileau said. “I don’t know if participating in this event will ever reach the true level of an event.”

Soileau became a marshal in 2018 along with other associates of his district. For confidentiality reasons, he wouldn’t say how many they have in Huffman ISD or who they are.

“We all have concerns about bringing guns into our schools, but at the same time we know these events are increasing and we need to find a way to combat them,” Soileau said.

While Soileau said he hopes they never have to activate their marshal training, he believes they are prepared.

The decision as to whether to participate in the program and who will be appointed marshal is left to each district.

“Look at the response times,” Soileau said he would suggest other districts are considering the program. “I would say that’s the first thing that needs to be checked and considered in my opinion. Even for a police department, an SRO in a smaller county where you just have a few officers going from one school to another, next what is that response time? We know these events happen in just a few minutes.”

The state has grants that cover the cost of training prospective marshals.

Soileau said he didn’t know if a marshal on campus would have prevented the tragic loss of life at Uvalde, but said he hoped they would be able to investigate what is happening and learn from it if more details were found would be known.

Watch full coverage of the Uvalde school shooting.

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Dais Johnston

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