During the public comments portion of Monday Amarillo Independent School District board meeting an Amarillo parent submitted a petition outlining a plan to arm personnel as a means of bolstering school safety initiatives.


“The petition is the AISD Children’s Defense Program,” said Romie Behunin, who has two daughters attending classes in the school district. “Using volunteers, the AISD staff, actual employees, would submit an application to the Board of Directors for approval. There would be additional background screenings, psychological evaluations, etc., to qualify for a role in program such as this. Upon approval, the petition asks that the Board will provide the state required certification and training for these individuals to get their license to carry.”


Behunin said the petition was originally generated to reach out to other parents to gauge their thoughts about school safety and ideas. He said the effort fostered dialogue and insight, noting 221 names were on the submitted petition without a concentrated solicitation effort.


School board members do not respond to comments made during the public comments portion of the session.


Meanwhile, Behunin said a prime component of the proposal is taking measures ensure students would not have access to a firearm.


“One of the key things we have to be cognizant of is the last thing we would ever want to do is implement a system that allowed a child to get in touch with a weapon,” he said. “That’s where the concept of biometric gun safes that require fingerprint identification would come into play. Confidentiality is another consideration, where no one in the school would know who is armed. Having the anonymity and proper training are paramount to the success of something like this.”


Behunin said he is hopeful the next step would be to enter into a question and answer conversation with school board members for the sake of engagement and the mapping of a plan that would work for all parties.


“I stood there with my girls and watched on television as the events unfolded in Florida (Stoneman Douglas High School),” he said. “We were in shock and horror. When my kids started sharing concerns about the unknowns and the safety gaps, I decided it was time to talk to some other parents about a plan.”