By Chris Edwards
AUSTIN – Last week the Texas Education Agency released a list of school safety requirements in response to Gov. Greg Abbott’s directives on public school safety measures.
Abbott charged both the TEA and the Texas State School Safety Center with a set of directives at the beginning of June to support the safety and security of public schools.
Much of the increased focus on school safety in Texas has arisen in the wake of the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, where a gunman fatally shot 21 people.
“Under Governor Abbott’s leadership, TEA and TxSSC are planning a set of actions that will collectively improve the level of safety at all Texas public schools. This correspondence is being issued to local education acencies to provide guidance related to actions [they] must take prior to the start of the new school year that will make their campuses more secure,” TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said in a news release.
The requirements call for school districts to secure doors, train staff and review threat response protocol by Sept. 1.
TEA released a list of requirements for schools, including exterior door safety audits and mandatory drills, which districts must now take action on before the fall semester begins.
Senate Bill 500, which passed in the last legislative session, appropriated $100,000,000 to TEA for enhanced security measures to be implemented in public schools.
Some of these measures include metal detectors at school entrances and bullet-proof glass or film for school entrances.
TEA also announced last week that it has extended the deadline of its School Safety and Security Grant. The new end date is June 15, 2023.
Morath said also that moving forward, the agency will issue a proposed rule requiring all districts, statewide, to ensure all instructional facilities meet certain standards and that certain related procedures are followed on an ongoing basis.
“TEA, TxSSC, and other state agency partners are working on additional actions to provide more support to improve school safety. This includes efforts to expand technical assistance for emergency operations plan development, conducting threat assessment protocols, expanding availability of school-based law enforcement, improving the efficacy of drills and incident preparedness exercises, and supporting LEA efforts in implementing multi-tiered system of supports,” Morath said.
Requirements of Texas school districts under new safety requirements
•Conduct a Summer Targeted Partial Safety Audit
•Conduct an Exterior Door Safety Audit
•Convene the LEA’s Safety and Security Committee to review:
— the multi-hazard emergency operations plan (EOP)
— and, as a component of the EOP, the LEA’s active threat plan
•Ensure all campus staff (including substitutes) are trained on their specific LEA and campus safety procedures
•Schedule all mandatory drills for the school year
•Ensure all threat assessment team members are trained
•Review and, if necessary, update access control procedures
— For the new school year, access control procedures must include exterior door sweeps (ensuring doors are closed and locked) at every instructional facility at least once each week while instruction is being conducted.