Greg Abbott

Gov. Abbott Reappoints 3 North Texans to Serve on Texas School Safety Center Board

The appointees still need to be confirmed by the state senate

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and other state leaders have said school security is a top priority this legislative session. There are multiple bills lawmakers are considering that deal with the topic and include increasing funding and personnel for school security.

Last week, Gov. Abbott announced the names of the six people he appointed to lead the School Safety Center Board. Three of the people named served a term before including Michael Slaughter of Wylie who is an assistant principal at Princeton High School, Jill Tate, a Grapevine Colleyville ISD Parent Teacher Association member and Edwin Flores, Ph.D., a Dallas ISD School Board Member. All of them are waiting to be confirmed by the state Senate to make it official.

"It was a great honor to be appointed the first time and it's, you know, equal honor to be reappointed by the governor to the School Safety Center Board," expressed Flores.

There are 17 members in total on the board who serve term limits and represent categories including, superintendent, board member, attorney general, professional architect, public teacher, Texas Education Agency, school administration, parent involvement and more.

Flores was chosen of the thousands of trustees in the state.

"The Legislature requires that there be at least one school board trustee that's part of the committee and it's great honor to represent basically all the trustees," said Flores.

The Texas School Safety Center was created by the legislature in 1999 and is based out of Texas State University in San Marcos where it serves as a central clearing house for everything to do with school safety. It also provides training, research and technical assistance regarding school security.

Flores said the tools provided through the center were critical last week after a student was shot in the arm in the parking lot of Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas.

“The fact that the faculty and staff at Thomas Jefferson High School reacted so quickly and so effectively to triage the situation realize what was going on and deal with it. You know, save the kid's life, so it really makes a huge difference the work of the Texas School Safety Center does," said Flores.

With his perspective as a school board member, Flores said he's also able to give feedback regarding the random school building inspections the Texas School Safety Center is conducting per the request of Gov. Abbott in response to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde.

"We've been doing these audits, and I've been able to provide direct feedback to the School Safety Center about what the effectiveness of those audits," said Flores.

For example, he said the School Safety Center has a list of facilities to perform the checks on, but sometimes information may be outdated, such as a school that's no longer in use. He said at one school, there have been multiple checks because technically there are several schools, but they're all in the same building.

"It was providing some of that feedback of what's really happening on the ground and how we can make the audits more effective," said Flores.

The news of having a representative from DISD was also welcomed by the local union.

“He'll be a good representative for Dallas ISD, he has good ideas and I appreciate him being willing to serve again because it is so vitally important," said Rena Honea the president of Alliance AFT, the DISD teachers union.

In a broader context, Honea said when it comes to school security, she wants state lawmakers to provide more funding.

"They have to provide additional funding, there is not enough funding and unfortunately, this occurrence (violence at school) is happening more and more frequently across our country, but we're seeing it in Texas and in Dallas as well," said Honea. "But along with the funding, there also has to be some action taken place. There have been committees there have been reports, people are ready to see action."

She said she would like to see more hall monitors, security officers, and Dallas ISD Police officers.

"There should be an officer at every campus and right now we don't have the funds to do that there at our secondary schools. And for our large high schools with 3,000 to 5,000 students, only two officers is not enough or maybe three. That still is not enough because the campuses are large, and they have outside facilities as well. So we have to really be honest about what's it going to take for people to feel safe, and those priorities have to be put first," said Honea.

House Bill 3, filled by Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) would require all school districts to have at least one armed security guard on campus.

Flores also echoed that funding is needed to help with the ongoing effort to keep campuses safe.

"At the Dallas Independent School District, we were receiving about $9 or $12 per student per year. Last year we spent $220 per student per year, because of the safety and security things that we had to do therefore we really need more funding from the state so the state can you know fill that gap that would be tremendous," explained Flores.

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