Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

January 25, 2013

Miller talks CHLs with Cleburne Rotarians

Super says more research needed

By Amber Washington/reporter@trcle.com

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Cleburne ISD Superintendent Tim Miller on Thursday addressed the Cleburne Rotary Club after the district’s concealed handgun license discussion earlier this week. 

The topic has been one of contentious debate since the Newtown, Conn., shooting on Dec. 14. The shooting left 20 students and six adults dead after Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and went on a rampage, before ending his own life. 

CISD on Tuesday became one of the first area districts to tackle the controversial subject of whether to allow select staff to carry concealed weapons. Miller told Rotarians on Thursday that he intends to meet with employees, parents, Cleburne police and other officials to conclude what recommendation to present board members. 

Rotarians noted, among other things, concerns that teachers might “snap” and shoot students or other school personnel.

In response, Miller said he had talked with new Police Chief Robert Severance about such an issue. 

“They would have to undergo psychiatric evaluations, like law enforcement personnel,” Miller said, adding the decision of whether to allow concealed carry could come down to the risk of an active shooter situation versus the risk of an accident with a gun. 

Asked what his individual opinion was on the matter, Miller said he, as a teacher, was comfortable with the idea of carrying a firearm to protect his students. 

“My personal opinion as a superintendent is that because right now there are more cons than pros, it’s something I wouldn’t recommend at this time,” he said. “That’s not to say over the next couple of weeks, talking to that long list of folks and getting all the information, I might have a different recommendation, but right now it’s something I don’t think would be in the best interest of the district to allow.” 

Miller also outlined several safety improvement options, including the completion of camera security systems district wide at a cost of up to $1 million. As discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, Miller also mentioned securing school entrances and placing at least six more school resource officers on the elementary school campuses where none are officed. 

“We are going to modify their schedules so they are on the campuses more frequently,” he said of the current SROs. 

Also at Tuesday’s board meeting, trustees approved a $15,000 per year contract with SchoolMessenger, Miller told Rotarians. 

“It provides text, voice and email notifications and is tied together with our student information system,” he said. “So every single kid that has a phone number or cellphone number or email address, it goes out immediately. We started it this year at the high school and are using it with our attendance program to let parents know if their child miss a day at school or a period at school, and that’s been pretty effective. For $15,000 a year, it costs about $2 per kid, and is an investment to improve our external and internal communications.” 

Miller said he will begin talking with district employees next week, and parents at a later date. 

“I was anticipating more people to come before the board [on Tuesday] based on the calls and the emails before the meeting, but nobody showed up,” he said. “That’s why I am actively trying to seek out people, especially our employees and parents.”