Dallas ISD officials are planning to hire 167 new campus security officers to comply with an impending state law requiring armed guards at every Texas school.

On Aug. 24, the district’s board of trustees voted to claim an exception to the state law, which allows them to commission Level 3 security officers instead of the required peace officers or school resource officers.

The details

Level 3 security officers are trained and licensed to carry a gun through the Texas Department of Public Safety. They focus solely on security and emergencies without the power to make arrests.

DISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde previously said the district plans to hire and train the new officers through the DISD Police Department “to ensure that this isn’t just someone [with] minimal training and the ability to carry a weapon.”

During the first year of the new law, DISD officials will use Level 3 security officers and attempt to recruit licensed peace officers from other entities to join the district’s police department, Elizalde said. At the same time, they will deploy as many current DISD police officers in supervisory roles as possible.

Under the exemption, DISD will still be required to create a three- to five-year plan on how to eventually implement armed security guards.

The background

Under House Bill 3, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law, all Texas schools are required to have an on-site armed security officer during regular school hours starting Sept. 1. Since the new law was signed, school districts across the state have been grappling with how to fund the costly directive, which school leaders, including Elizalde, say the state is drastically underfunding.

The new law came as a response to the mass shooting in a Uvalde elementary school where 19 students and two teachers died in 2022.

Related highlights

In mid-August, Richardson ISD officials announced plans to hire 34 level three security officers, plus two lead security officers, under the new law. Similar to DISD, RISD claimed an exception to the law due to a lack of funding and available personnel.

The district’s new officers, who will be stationed at various RISD elementary campuses, will come in addition to the already existing school resource officers present at all secondary schools and seven elementary schools.