The chief legal officer in Texas recently weighed in on how school marshals should carry their service weapons while on campus in accordance with state law.

Attorney General Ken Paxton released a non-binding opinion on Tuesday that suggested school marshals may openly carry their holstered firearms if the school district board of trustees votes to permit it.

He had been replying to a request fielded by his office from Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) for clarification on a state law outlining the appointment of school marshals in public and open charter schools.

The school marshal program was intended as a lower-cost way for rural or smaller school districts to comply with state security requirements, such as the recent law requiring each campus to appoint an armed peace officer, as covered in The Dallas Express.

Although lawmakers have released additional taxpayer dollars to help school districts cover the costs related to school safety requirements, several districts — including Dallas ISD, which has a $2.5 billion budget — have reportedly struggled to meet them.

Provided that they are trained and certified, school marshals can be licensed to carry duty weapons. Yet the manner in which school marshals might possess their weapons was at the heart of Birdwell’s recent query.

Interpreting the relevant provisions of Texas Education Code Section 37.0811, Paxton asserted that “the Legislature has provided each school board with some discretion to determine the extent of handgun possession by school marshals that best meets that district’s individual needs.”

He suggested that this means the school board, which carries “the exclusive power and duty to govern and oversee the management of the public schools of the district,” can decide whether a school marshal might carry a handgun on a “duty belt” while on campus for the protection of students and staff.

School safety has been a considerable issue in Texas since the tragic mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde in 2022. Alongside making changes to comply with state requirements, many school districts have developed their own policies to keep weapons out of schools, such as through clear backpack policies and cutting-edge artificial intelligence scanners.