Abbott's Texas School Safety Action Plan Details Action Taken to Expand School Safety Measures

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a School Safety Action Plan Summary Thursday detailing action taken over the summer by school districts across Texas to improve and expand school safety measures.

Abbott's office, in a news release, said "the actions taken by these school districts follow the governor's call to adopt and implement multidisciplinary school safety strategies outlined in his School and Firearm Safety Action Plan released earlier this year."
"Elected leaders, community members, students, teachers, parents and everyday Texans all share the common goal of making schools a safe place for our children," said Abbott. "Our goal is being realized as school districts across the state continue to put immediate and long term plans aimed at prevention and protection in place. While progress is being made, there is still much work to be done and I encourage everyone in Texas to continue the discussion surrounding school safety to ensure that we put in place measures that will benefit the safety and well-being of our state's greatest resource - our children."

Highlights from the School Safety Action Plan Summer Summary include:

  • 1,705 public school employees attended Mental Health First Aid training courses during June and July. This is a 90 percent increase from the summer of 2017.
  • The Department of Public Safety immediately expanded the iWatchTexas program to include school incidents as reported via mobile app, Internet[1], or phone by students, teachers, parents, and others in the statewide centralized system that will provide law enforcement the opportunity to detect and prevent an attack.
  • The Texas School Safety Center has worked with the Texas Commission On Law Enforcement to provide introductory school-based law enforcement, behavioral threat assessment, and emergency operations plan development courses to more than 500 people.
  • As of Aug. 17, an additional 92 school marshals have been appointed, with 73 prospective marshals in the training process. This training effort has already more than tripled the number of trained and licensed school marshals.
  • The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training program at Texas State University has provided direct training to nearly 1,300 police officers, firefighters, dispatchers, EMS personnel, and others since May 18.
Several North Texas independent school districts have already implemented changes -- some of which are included below from the governor's report.
  • Frisco ISD has identified ways in which counselors are utilized ineffectually and have attempted to address a counselor's role on campus.  In an effort to further support students, Frisco ISD is hiring 38 additional campus instructional support facilitators to take over testing and other duties to make more qualified and licensed counselors available to meet with students to help them be successful. Student assistance coordinators will also be available to provide individual, group, and crisis counseling.
  • Frisco ISD has launched STOP !T, an app where students can report threats and concerns. STOP !T allows two-way communication for administrators to respond with questions, even if the tip is anonymous. Students or staff can upload screen shots, pictures, and videos to share with administrators, which the district believes will also be a useful tool in cases of cyberbullying.
  • In response to the trauma caused by Hurricane Harvey, Texas Can Academies charter school network launched a new program on May 1 to provide a 24/7 confidential counseling crisis hotline, and access to three free off-campus counseling appointments to students across all 13 of its campuses.
  • Waxahachie ISD (WISD), has taken extensive steps to increase the number of campus-based security personnel.  The district is implementing a School Marshal Program with a goal of appointing at least one appropriately qualified and trained school marshal at each campus of the district. WISD has also opted to implement a Guardian Plan with select volunteers meeting appropriate qualifications to undergo training similar to that required of school marshals.
  • The Governor's School Safety Plan encouraged districts to increase collaboration with local law enforcement agencies. Waxahachie ISD is also hiring local law enforcement to work at all WISD campuses during the school day.  Additionally, the district has created a teen leadership program at junior high campuses that works directly with district security officers and SROs.  The district is continuing to work with and train community members to provide visibility and volunteer security, specifically targeting retired law enforcement and veterans. This includes encouraging first responders and law enforcement to be on district campuses with workspaces, free lunches, and other incentives.
  • Denton ISD has changed the entry points on certain campuses, streamlining access and allowing the installation of secure entry systems. Elementary schools will be the first to receive these secure entry systems which will require visitors to be visible on camera before entering the building.
The governor's office said Abbott and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) will continue to work with school districts to develop long-term safety plans.
The School Safety Action Plan can be read below.
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