Carroll ISD administration is looking to hire two contracted armed security guards to serve across its campuses for the remainder of the school year under the good-cause exception of House Bill 3.

The security guards will cover any staffing vacancies with the district’s school resource officers and maintain compliance with state law, said Brian Nickel, director of safety and student services. Nickel presented the administration's plan to the CISD board of trustees at a Nov. 13 meeting.

Some context

House Bill 3, which went into effect Sept. 1, mandates that each school district campus have at least one armed security officer present during regular school hours, with security officer defined as a school district police officer, a school resource officer, or a commissioned peace officer employed as security personnel under Texas Education Code 37.081.

A school resource officer is a law enforcement officer who is assigned to provide a police presence at a public school. Additionally, to qualify as a commissioned peace officer, individuals must pass all licensing courses and examinations, and must be appointed by a law enforcement agency, according to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

“We have SROs assigned to all of our campuses,” Nickel said. “The problem is that we don’t necessarily have a surplus, so if you have officers that are in training, you have illness or if we ever have gaps in hiring, we sometimes can find ourselves in a position of struggling to stay in compliance with that regulation.”

What's happening

House Bill 3 states that a district may claim an exception to the requirement if the noncompliance is due to the availability of funding or qualified personnel. In this case, the board of trustees must approve an alternative standard with which the district is able to comply, which may include providing a person to act as a security officer.

Nickel proposed an alternative standard to the board in which a school resource officer would be assigned to each campus, but in the event that there is an SRO vacancy, the district would contract a trained armed security guard to fill in until an SRO is available.

The administration recommended IMPACT Threat Solutions, a local company that holds the necessary licenses and insurance specifically tailored for school systems, as a potential partnership in this effort, according to the meeting agenda.

All of the agency’s officers meet the standards for active shooter training, firearm safety and handling, first-aid, CPR, and physical fitness, and also undergo additional security and customer service training, Nickel said.

The approach

If the exception were approved, CISD would contract two armed security officers from IMPACT Threat Solutions at $70 per hour, which would equate to about $49,840 for the remainder of the 2023-24 school year, he said.

The officers would serve as supplemental, moving in as needed when vacancies arise. At times when the campuses remain fully staffed, the officers would be deployed to CISD's high school and senior high school, which have a larger student population, more entries and exits, and an increased need for parking lot patrol, Nickel said.

The officers would work closely with CISD school resource officers, but their responsibilities would differ slightly. They would be purposed exclusively for security and would not be involved in investigations, Nickel said. The officers would also report directly to Nickel and not the SROs.

What they’re saying

When asked by the board about the possibility of hiring off-duty police officers in lieu of the exception, Nickel said that while there are officers available, there aren’t any agencies that can provide personnel during sudden and abrupt vacancies, with most requiring 10 days notice.

“It's not like a substitute system; there's not a line you can call and somebody is there the next morning,” he said.