It’s a warning for intruders, indicating that some staff members are armed and may use force to protect their students.
For the last six years, Thorndale ISD — located about 50 miles northeast of Austin — has trained faculty members to be armed and prepared to defend their schools in case of an active shooter.
Thorndale ISD Board of Trustees president David Hall has played a pivotal part with organizing the “School Guardian” program.
“It’s something you hope that you never have to implement,” he said. “But it’s there if you need it.”
The district has over 600 students across three campuses. Hall says arming the district’s teachers has been a success thus far.
“It has given our community, parents, staff and our kids a sense of safety when they come to school,” he said.
Following the Uvalde school shooting — where 19 children and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary —the state created a new safety bill. House Bill 3 requires school districts to place one armed officer on every campus.
Thorndale ISD superintendent Zack Kleypas says this is something his schools have been doing for quite some time.
“Our community really values the safety of our students,” he said. By having our school guardian program, we’re able to guarantee that we’ve got armed individuals across our district.”
The volunteer guardians go through multiple trainings each year with former and current law enforcement.
“Each guardian participates in both shooting drills and practices,” Kleypas said. Along with some tactical scenarios here in our schools.”
Thorndale Police Chief Scott Roberson helps train the teachers.
“We’ve done this so somebody can respond right away in the event that something does happen,” he explained.
Although Thorndale ISD won’t reveal the identities or number of teachers in the program, they did say more staff members have joined the guardian program this year.
“We want to do everything we can to deter and ensure that folks know when they come to Thorndale ISD, we have individuals who will do what’s necessary to protect our students,” Kleypas concluded.
With an additional effort to improve safety and security districtwide, Thorndale ISD finished a fence this summer that completely covers the exterior of its elementary campus.