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Monday, July 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Arming School Officials Doesn’t Break Texas Law

AUSTIN (CN) - School districts that let employees carry firearms onto campus are not breaking Texas laws banning weapons at sporting events, interscholastic events and school board meetings, Attorney General Greg Abbott said.

State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, asked Abbott in 2013 about the legality of smaller, rural school districts using so-called guardian plans rather than school district police that larger district have.

Under the guardian plans, districts designate certain employees to carry concealed handguns on school property instead.

Pickett was concerned the guardian plans could possible conflict with provisions in state criminal laws banning concealed handguns at school events.

"While some school districts adopted a guardian plan prior to 2013, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary has resulted in these plans becoming more prevalent," Pickett wrote.

In a five-page opinion released Friday, Abbott said state law allows school boards to override the section of the Texas Penal Code banning the firearms at school.

The school board's "written regulations and authorization" in the designated school employees to carry firearms creates an exception, Abbott wrote.

Abbott also concluded that school board trustees could themselves act as guardians because they "would likely be acting with the scope of official duties."

"Because the issue of scope of official duties may arise in different legal contexts, it is difficult to give a categorical answer," Abbott wrote.

The Texas Education Code "provides that a 'board shall ... carry out other powers and duties as provided by this code or other law,'" he added. "A board of 'trustees as a body corporate [has] the exclusive power and duty to govern and oversee the management of the public schools of the district.'"

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