Round Rock ISD files for 'good cause exception' amid House Bill 3

School districts all across the state are scrambling to be in compliance with House Bill 3. 

The bill went into effect on Sept. 1. It requires all campuses in the state to have at least one-armed officer.

Because of lack of personnel and funding, Round Rock ISD filed for a good cause exception during Thursday night's school board meeting.

"After going through some analysis of what's available to us in terms of options under the statute, we felt that it was in the best interests and the desires of the community. If we stuck with peace officers as opposed to going with some other options such as guardians or marshals," says Round Rock ISD police chief Dennis Weiner.

Currently, Round Rock ISD has 24 officers. In order to be in compliance with the bill, the district would need to hire an additional 44.

"In my opinion, I think the Marshall and guardian option was developed for very small districts with one, two, three, four schools because they're easily managed in that environment. Once you get to a scale of this district, you'd have to set up an entirely new management unit," says Weiner.

Even before the mandate was put in place, Round Rock ISD says the district has struggled to get officers to work for their district.

"Us fulfilling this mandate is not a money thing. We're not going to find a people to do it because I can't fill the 8, I got now that's been in the budget," says Dennis Covington, RRISD's chief financial officer

Until the district is able to get those officers hired, they say they will prioritize presence on high school and middle school campuses, and assign dedicated officers to groups of elementary schools for coverage.

And lastly, reduce the number of elementary schools assigned to each officer as staffing increases until all campuses have an assigned officer.