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Under Fire: Law Enforcement Agency’s Attempt To Keep Marshal Program Schools Secret

A state agency’s efforts to keep the names of schools participating in the state’s school marshals program a secret, isn’t sitting well with those who helped pass the law.

The Protection of Texas Children Act, otherwise known as the state’s school marshals program, was passed during the 2013 legislative session in response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.  State lawmakers wanted to ensure that smaller and mid-sized schools, without their own police department, could train one of their staff members to respond with force during an on-campus shooting.

But the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, the group overseeing school marshals, now wants to keep the names of schools that have implemented the program secret. They’ve asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for his legal opinion on whether they, as an agency, can act independently to keep this information from the public. 

Coppell Republican, Rep. Bennet Ratliff, helped have the bill passed, but says parents and taxpayers deserve to know what schools have implemented the program.

“I think there needs to be some type of notification requirement if that’s happening, just mainly because I think the public has a right to know,” said Ratliff.

According to the language of the bill when it was signed into law, the state’s Commission on Law Enforcement was only allowed to keep the names of the marshals themselves out of the public domain, not the campuses that had chosen to implement the program.