Leander ISD may begin the process of forming its own police department this school year.

What you need to know

Leander ISD officials presented initial plans to start a district police department at a Nov. 9 board of trustees meeting. Phase 1 of the department would involve hiring a police chief, an assistant police chief, 10 school marshals and an administrative assistant as well as costs for training, insurance and equipment, said Bryan Miller, executive director of student support.

On Nov. 30, the board will vote on a resolution to create the police department and amend the district's budget by $1.1 million this fiscal year to fund Phase 1. If approved, the district will take its first step toward forming the department by submitting an application to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, Miller said.

How we got here

The district police department comes in light of a new state law that required school districts to have an armed security guard at every campus by Sept. 1. On Sept. 7, the board voted to claim a good cause exception and create an alternative standard to the law as it was unable to meet its requirements due to a lack of available funding and personnel.

District officials recommended LISD create a police department with 35 school resource officers across its middle and high school campuses, and 32 school marshals for elementary and alternative school campuses at an Aug. 24 meeting.

What they're saying

Board Vice President Anna Smith asked district officials to consider policies concerning educational equity when forming the department to ensure students aren't being targeted by officers due to their race or disability.

"I know our hands are tied here. This is mandated. Nobody likes it, but it is what it is," Smith said. "For me as a trustee to ensure that our kids are safe at all levels, I would really like us to really lean into this local policy."

What else?

The proposed resolution would also allow the district to continue existing school resource officer partnerships with local law enforcement agencies until they are no longer needed, Miller said. The district could also enter into interlocal agreements to collaborate with agencies once the district department is functional, he said.

LISD had eight school resource officers from local police departments at the beginning of the school year, and plans are in place to add two more officers from local agencies, LISD Chief Communications Officer Crestina Hardie and Superintendent Bruce Gearing said.