Local families ask lawmakers to pass school marshal bill

From Staff Reports

A Liberty Hill parent, who asked the local school board in February to support the concept of armed school marshals, took her plea to state lawmakers last week.

Melanie Kriewaldt-Roth and Cara Windsor brought their children to the Capitol last Thursday to testify in support of House Bill 1009, a bill that would allow school districts to provide law enforcement training to some school employees so that they may serve as licensed law enforcement officers or School Marshals.

Mrs. Kriewaldt-Roth said the bill’s author, State Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, invited her to testify before the House Homeland Security and  Public Safety Committee because he wanted “a mother’s perspective” represented at the hearing.

She was among hundreds of Texans who testified last week on a series of gun-related bills introduced in the aftermath of a school shooting in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut.

Ms. Kriewaldt-Roth said she waited five hours to testify before the House Committee.

“It is a sad reality when a mother has to trek down to the State Capitol with her children in tow to request armed protection for her children’s schools,” she told The Independent. “But, this is our reality, nonetheless.  And I do pray we heed the warning so that our teachers and parents can rest a little easier knowing we have done our due diligence to protect what is most precious to all of us:  our children.”

During her testimony, Ms. Kriewaldt-Roth made the same points that she made to Liberty Hill school trustees in February.

The legislation creates an optional program for school districts.

“I wanted the Committee to understand that while there may be districts with louder voices shouting down the idea of guns in school,  I personally live in a community where the protection of a gun is a comforting thought and a common practice. Many Liberty Hill residents have extensive experience with guns in sport or occupation,” she said. “Therefore, I suggested that the availability of a candidate for this license (school marshal) was very high in a community such as ours.”

She said she also supported the bill because the marshal position is covert, and the individual could only take action in the event of an active shooter situation on campus.

“With the aspect of secrecy, a layer of deterrence is created. A potential attacker would not know where an armed response might come from,” she said. “This program cuts down the response time from minutes to seconds in the event of a deadly threat on a school campus. That difference will save a lot of lives, if we choose to make that difference in our school security system.”

In response to Ms. Kriewaldt-Roth’s comments to the school board last month, Liberty Hill Superintendent Rob Hart told The Independent, “We are very confident in what we do to keep our kids safe and we have not felt a need for further measures.”