JISD’s Barnwell says armed teachers make schools less of a target

by BOB PALMER, Jimplecute Editor

Although he expressed sympathy and understanding for the “March For Our Lives” protestors, Jefferson ISD Superintendent Rob Barnwell said the district’s armed Guardian program made local students safer.

“Most schools, churches and other public venues are designated as “gun-free” zones, which make them soft-targets,’ Barnwell said. “Therefore, those mentally-deranged, evil folks have more of an opportunity to do more damage and kill more people in those types of venues.”

Jefferson’s response to these assaults is the Guardian program.

“Following much discussion, research, and consideration, JISD implemented a Guardian Program this past fall semester,” Barnwell said. “Initially, while the plan was still in the tentative stages, JISD shared its plan with the local media and published an invitation for the public to give input at an open board meeting. We also visited extensively with a superintendent from another, local school district who had recently implemented a similar program.”

Team members have been exposed to several different types of screenings, trainings, and evaluations, including, but not limited to; a psychological/personality profile, gun safety, weapon usage training, active shooter training (including working as a team, checking/clearing rooms, tourniquet application, hostage situations, etc.) Those trainings are routine and ongoing.

“We also placed signs in prominent places around the campuses to inform folks of the fact that we have armed staff and they are prepared to protect our students and staff, if necessary. Hopefully, this could also be a deterrent,” Barnwell said.

The superintendent said the district has not encountered any problems with the Guardian program.

“I believe, should there be a life-threatening event in our schools, our response time would be much better now,” Barnwell said. “It is everyone’s hope that our team members never have to use the training they have received related to a threat to human life on one of our campuses. But if an event should occur, I believe we are all more prepared to deal with it…..and by ‘we,’ I don’t mean just our Guardian team members, but also our other staff and students as well.”

Barnwell sees most of the perpetrators as mentally ill.

“Most school shootings (or other acts of violence that occur in highly populated areas such as movie theaters, churches, concerts, etc.) are not normal incidents that involve one person who is simply mad at another person,” Barnwell said. “They are not usually just acts of passion or anger in which a person has a personal vendetta or serious issue with another person. These mass shootings and bombings are planned, and they are carried out by people who suffer from serious mental issues and who harbor evil thoughts.”

Much of the national response to the shootings in Parkland, FL is understandable.
“Violent acts, particularly ones in which many innocent lives are lost, result in immediate fear for most of us, but that fear is heightened even more if it happens in our own school or in the community where we live,” Barnwell said. “That fear turns to concern, concern turns into thoughts, and thoughts turn into action. They simply want to feel safer and they want to do what they can to keep something like that from happening again.

“I cannot begin to imagine how those young folks (survivors) feel at Parkland or other places where violent, deadly acts have occurred. And those poor parents and family members, who lost someone in a senseless killing spree like that. I just feel so, so sorry for them. That has to be almost unbearable for them.

“So, I understand why part of their actions include marching out of class, protests, and speaking with legislators in order for their voices to be heard,” Barnwell concluded.

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