Keene ISD Superintendent interviewed by national TV host Jon Stossel
As gun violence and mass shootings seem to become more frequent in today’s society, school districts are turning to arming teachers to keep their students safe. Keene ISD started it’s guardianship program two and a half years ago and recently, KISD Superintendent Ricky Stephens sat down with national TV host Jon Stossell in New York to talk about protecting students, by force, if necessary.
“We are very proud of Keene and the things we do at the ISD,” Stephens said. “Anytime you get someone who recognizes you outside your normal area, it builds credibility.”
Stephens, who has been the superintendent of KISD for five years, said he is proud of the guardianship program for protecting their students from potential harm.
“Our school board, in conjunction with our police department, wanted to arm some staff in case a bad situation should arise,” Stephens said. “You hear all the time about people coming in to create as much casualty as they can in public areas.”
Stephens further said that should an active shooter situation arise, he felt that staff would run towards the situation instead of away from it.
“John and I talked about Sandy Hook,” Stephens said. “The gunman blew the doors open and the first person he shot was the principal. If she had had a gun she might’ve been able to mitigate the situation.
“We wanted to give our teachers and staff the proper tools to defend our students. A pistol instead of a pencil. We looked at other schools and demographics and decided it was a good answer for us.”
Stossel is a well-known libertarian who believes in second amendment rights, but did ask some questions that challenged Stephens.
“He did have some legitimate questions,” Stephens said. “Statistically, yes, school shootings are rare and we have never had one in Keene ISD. However, ever since the 1950’s when we implemented fire drills, we haven’t had a single death from a school fire. Whose to say the guardianship program wouldn’t have the same effect?”
There are nearly 1,300 school districts in Texas and 110 allow staff to carry firearms, according to the Texas Association of School Boards. School districts in more rural areas may have staff carry at a higher rate, due to being in large counties that may have a slower response time from law enforcement.
“We looked at other schools and demographics and decided that this was a good answer for us,” Stephens said. “When we implemented this two years ago, I only got a few parents that were concerned. Most were very supportive.”
The interview with Stossel will air on April 23 on Stossel TV. A link will be posted on the KISD Facebook page.