Port Neches-Groves Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Rodney Cavness wants parents to know that their kids are safe when they go to school each morning, but that the district needs to be offensive and not defensive when it comes to their safety.
If it came down to it, he says he would be okay with letting teachers and administrators carry concealed handguns on campus, but thinks a middle of the road solution can be met.
Cavness met with district administrators and Port Neches police today to review security measures at all their schools. He's not sure they'll have to resort to letting teachers carry guns, but he's happy that the ball is rolling in what he says is their main concern right now: safety.
The flags at the PN-G ISD administration building are at half-staff in memory of those who lost their lives in the Connecticut elementary school massacre. Cavness wants to make sure nothing like that happens in one of his schools.
"That time between when an intruder or an active shooter arrives on campus and that response time of the police, you've got to be prepared to make things happen when you need to," he said Tuesday morning.
He wants there to be at least one armed person guarding every school, which isn't the case now. He's even open to arming teachers and administrators.
"If an intruder knows that we're going to shoot back, they're not coming on our campus, they're just not going to," he said.
When we talked to people about how they feel about this, we got mixed answers.
Port Neches resident Lauri Moore told us she doesn't agree with letting teachers carry guns, saying, "There's accidents that can happen... I think that there's carelessness, and somebody's going to have it somewhere they shouldn't or it's going to be locked up where they can't get it fast enough."
But Sheila Barton, a Port Arthur resident, thinks it could be a good idea.
"In light of what's just happened, I don't see how it could hurt, if it would've meant saving the lives of all those babies," she said.
Cavness knows it's a touchy subject.
"I believe that at a minimum we've got to have an armed, uniformed person on the campus, ready to do what they need to do to keep our kids and our teachers safe," he said.
Port Neches Police Chief Paul Lemoine says his department doesn't have the manpower to provide each school in the district with a permanent police officer.
Cavness says they might have to reach out to other agencies such as the sheriff's office or DPS for help.
Port Neches police officers will be going to each school in the district throughout the week doing security walkthroughs. Cavness says he will hold a town hall meeting for parents to discuss the issue sometime after the holidays. He hopes to have a firm plan in place by the next school board meeting on January 14th.
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