By: José Niño

Groesbeck, Texas’s independent school district has had a school guardian program in effect roughly a year. On July 17, 2023, Groesbeck ISD put out a press release showing they had placed signs announcing the program.

This program was set up after a series of mass shootings that have taken place at schools nationwide. It allows for trained staff to respond to lethal threats before law enforcement can arrive on the scene. Dean Weingarten of AmmoLand noted that this program is considerably more efficient than having School Resource Officers deployed at the school.

One SRO costs roughly $100,000 annually. By contrast, a Guardian costs approximately $1,000 per year. Groesbeck School Superintendent, Anthony Figueroa, has been a major booster of the program. In a Groesbeck Independent School District press release Figueroa stated the following about this program:

“Two months ago, I sent my monthly superintendent newsletter informing parents of our Guardian Program and new signage (see picture below). Being installed this week, signs will be posted on our campuses which state, ‘ATTENTION: GISD STAFF ARE ARMED AND TRAINED TO PROTECT OUR STUDENTS.’12”X12” signs will be attached to all building entrances, and larger 3’X3’ signs will be displayed at all parking/drive way entrances.

“Last year the Groesbeck ISD school board watched the devastation of schools across the country, being forced to prepare for the unthinkable –the potential of a school shooting, and considered appropriate policies. The Board updated local policy, authorizing a School Safety “Guardian” Program (TX Govt. Code 411.1901). Its purpose is to provide students and faculties an armed self-defense option prior to the arrival of Law Enforcement in the event of an active shooter or “active killer” on campus.

 “The Guardians are ISD staff members who have passed strict requirements and training. In order to protect them from becoming targets of an intruder, their names are confidential and are not to be released. I ask that names not be guessed at nor rumors passed in an attempt to protect these individuals.

 “Although the program has been in place for almost a year, the Board of Trustees approved for the district to make the program more visible. By providing the community this information and by placing signs up across the campuses, we are taking additional steps so that people know we are NOT an ‘easy target’.”

As of October 2022, up to 450 out of 1,022 school districts in Texas are a part of the Guardian Program.

Schools have traditionally been gun-free zones, de facto criminal safe spaces, for the past three decades or so thanks to the passage of legislation such as The Gun-Free School Zones Act (GFSZA) of 1990. Under such policies, criminals could rack up nasty kill counts because they would face little resistance from their victims. The police would generally appear at the scene once the damage has already been done.

This is clearly unacceptable. Since federal legislators will do nothing to scrap the GFSZA, it’s going to take states and local governments to craft their own policies to promote school safety. Texas is leading the way in this respect, and hopefully more states follow in its footsteps.

José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at [email protected]. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.  Subscribe to his Substack newsletter here.