Signs started popping up at the entrances and exits to schools in Melissa this week to share a simple message, “Staff at Melissa schools are armed and trained.”
It’s a sentiment that dates back to a policy passed in 2016. In Melissa ISD, staff may request to carry on campus.
“Each qualified staff member at Melissa Schools who carries, maintains a concealed handgun license (CHL) and has completed extensive active shooter training. Those qualified staff members either carry or store their gun in a secure, locked gun case. There will be continued training for board-approved staff who carry,” said a district.
Those staff members are first vetted by ISD police, then administration and finally approved by the school board.
It’s a responsibility Superintendent Keith Murphy says comes with a lot of responsibility.
“You know one of the commitments that they have to make is that, you know, if the bad guy shows up, we have to go get them,” said Murphy.
When first proposed, the district did face pushback from some parents.
Allowing teachers to carry has been a somewhat controversial suggestion around the country in the wake of yet another deadly school shooting. While social media buzzed with mix opinions when the signs were planted this week, Murphy says not all voices count when it comes to keeping kids safe.
“In our district, we’re not perfect but we do love kids and we put what’s in their best interest first. Politics, the opinions of a parent who’s not necessarily plugged in or been a part of the process, they don’t necessarily matter. What matters is are we doing what we believe is in the best interest of our kids,” said Murphy.
Still many parents Tuesday were supportive of the plan.
“Right now, I think if this is what we can do, I think it’s a start. Something’s better than nothing," said Michelle Wares.
Wares learned of the policy as she was enrolling her two youngest in the district. She says she wasn't always supportive of arming teachers, but after watching the shooting in Parkland, Florida, a community they once called home, her stance shifted.
“Watching the teachers in terror and in fear of not being able to do anything, that kind of changed my mind," said Wares.
Her high school senior agreed.
“It would overall make me more safe, more safe for the friends that I would have and I guess for the overall school," said Avion Wares.
The district doesn't make public the number of or names of staff that carry, meaning many parents don't know whether there is a gun in their child's classroom.