The state's newest level of law enforcement officers, the Texas School Marshal, is now a reality, as the initial class of School Marshal Trainers enters the Texas Law Enforcement Academy in San Marcos.

  State Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) says the training program for the School Marshals has to be written by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

  "They developed these programs and training modules, they are complete now, and now that school districts which had considered them are now free to implement the program," Villalba said.

  The measure, which was passed in the 2011 session of the Legislature, allows small school districts which don't have police forces to designate one existing school employee per campus to be the school marshal.

  Modeled after the federal air marshal program, the school marshal will be trained to be a 'rapid response officer' only.  The marshal will be allowed to be armed in the school, but will not be allowed to have the gun on his her person if the marshal has a job that involves interaction with students.

  "The Marshal may posses a handgun on the physical premises of a school in a locked and secure safe within the marshal's immediate reach when conducting his or her primary duty," the bill reads.

  The identity of the school marshal is confidential and protected from disclosure under the State Open Records Act.  The only schools that can employ marshals are schools which, largely due to their small size, do not have sworn police officers on every campus.

  The tiny Argyle ISD north of Dallas is the first district in the state to announce plans to employ a school marshal.

  All school marshals have to have 80 hours of training, conducted by the Marshal Trainers who are taking the course that begins today. 

  The Marshals can only act 'to prevent or abate of an offense that threats serious bodily injury or death, of students, faculty or visitors to school property, and they can only act until police arrive on the scene.  The Marshals are not allowed to ticket vehicles, act as truant officers, or conduct any other 'police business' at the school.