DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) – The Dripping Springs ISD Board of Trustees unanimously voted to get a Good Cause Exception from House Bill 3.
HB 3, which goes into effect Friday, would require armed security officers at every campus.
The school board voted to move forward with a School Marshal Program as an alternative standard.
If districts aren’t able to comply, they can claim a Good Cause Exception for not having enough funding or personnel to fill those positions. But they have to come up with another plan.
“You can’t just ask for the exception and be done. You have to establish that alternative standard. It can look like a Guardian plan, Marshal program, or a level three security officer,” said DSISD Director of Safety Sirenna Cumberland.
In May 2023, KXAN reported the district had four School Resource Officers (SROs) and the board voted to add three.
According to the August agenda item, Hays County is “unable to fully staff the district’s request of additional SROs.”
The district will now work on placing School Marshals at elementary schools where there are no School Resource Officers.
Cumberland said School Marshals wouldn’t replace any SROs but they’d be there to help while the sheriff’s office works to get those positions filled.
“Once we get those SROs they’re still going to be the law enforcement on those campuses,” Cumberland said. “Marshals will be just an extra piece of that.”
‘More campuses than we have officers’
A School Marshal Program is an idea DSISD parent Nathan Kaspar said he supports.
“We have more campuses than we have officers. So if something were to happen, you want to make sure that there’s somebody on campus ready to respond,” Kaspar said. “Having a really good officer one campus away in a district the size of Dripping Springs isn’t good enough.”
Kaspar said he’d like to see armed personnel at every campus.
“There’s no reason you can’t have, you know, a bus driver, that’s also a school marshal,” Kaspar said. “Send him to the training, get them qualified and, and let them be ready.”
School Marshal requirements according to DSISD:
- Must be school district employee
- Psychiatric evaluation
- Must hold LTC (4-6 hours training)
- Must complete 80 hour school marshal
- Subject to board regulations
- May make arrests only to prevent offenses
involving serious bodily injury or death
- Must complete 16 hours renewal training
and psych exam every 2 years
Not every parent was enthusiastic about the idea. During Monday’s school board meeting, parents encouraged the district to be very selective with who they hire for those positions.
“I think we need to have a really, really tight job description that has a lot of vetting behind it,” one parent said.