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Curtis Culwell Center rental policy discussions begin

by | May 14, 2015 | Uncategorized

Board trustees to examine issues surrounding recent shootings

 By Patty Montagno

Staff Writer

[email protected]


Members of the Garland Board of Trustees met in executive session to discuss the rental policy of the Curtis Culwell Center. The Garland Independent School District owns the facility.

Board President Rick Lambert and Superintendent Dr. Bob Morrison read prepared statements.

Those two statements were the only public discussion regarding the recent shootings at the center.

Two gunmen were killed outside the center May 3 where an estimated crowd of 200 were attending a controversial Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest.

The New York based American Freedom Defense Initiative hosted the event that featured a contest for cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

According to GISD Public Information Officer Joe Harn, the two suspects pulled up to the event in a car, immediately got out with assault rifles and began shooting at a police car that was parked next to a barricade.

“Garland ISD SRO Bruce Joiner was hit but suffered non-life threatening injuries,” he said. “A traffic officer at the scene opened fire on the suspects with a service pistol, killing both of them outside their car.

He did a very good job and probably saved lives.” His name has not been released.

One of the gunmen was identified as Phoenix resident Elton Simpson, who was convicted in 2010 in a case related to a FBI terror investigation.

U.S. law enforcement officials later identified the second shooter as Nadir Soofi, the roommate of Simpson.

The incident also drew an outcry of negativity from the community about the open rental policy for the center.

Although school officials said the center could not survive if only school related events were allowed;

the board has agreed to take a step back to re-evaluate the policy due to public safety concerns.

Garland ISD Public Information Officer Chris Moore said the district will re-examine those policies and make sure they “are utilizing those regulations as efficiently as we can, but not trump safety.”

Moore said since the district gets state and federal money, it’s not allowed to discriminate on who or what rents out the facility.

Officials said that a change in policy may mean giving up that federal and state money. That funding source dictates that the center has to accommodate any non-profit or for-profit group.

“We have to evaluate it,” Moore said. “We have to be non-discriminatory.”

The school district says if it didn’t change its policy and then tried to pick and choose events that it would hold in the center, it could open itself up to possible lawsuits.

School officials said they will consider whether nonscholastic events should be held at the publicly owned arena.




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