Gov. Greg Abbott is directing the Texas School Safety Center to begin a statewide review of school safety procedures following last week's massacre at Uvalde's Robb Elementary that killed 19 children and two teachers.
Abbott sent a letter to Dr. Kathy Martinez-Prather, director of the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) at Texas State University, on Wednesday and asked that the research center immediately conduct "comprehensive school safety reviews to ensure all Texas public schools are following the appropriate procedures to maximize school safety."
In the letter, Abbott said he wanted the TxSSC to do four things:
- Ensure all school districts' School Safety and Security Committees meet ahead of the new school year to review their Emergency Operations Plan and address any campus safety needs, this includes reviewing their Active Threat plan;
- Ensure the School Behavioral Threat Assessment Team is trained and has reviewed procedures for each campus;
- Ensure all staff and substitutes are trained on their specific district and campus safety procedures before the start of the 2022-23 school year;
- Conduct an assessment of their access control procedures, such as single access points, locked classroom doors, visitor check-in procedures, and exterior door locks.
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The TxSSC is directed to complete the reviews by Sept. 1 and certify the data to the TxSSC by Sept. 9. The TxSSC will provide a progress report of findings to the governor and legislature by Oct. 1.
Abbott said in the letter that he will work to hold any districts accountable that are unable to meet the requirements.
UVALDE SCHOOL SHOOTING
TEXAS TO CONDUCT RANDOM, UNANNOUNCED ACCESS INSPECTIONS AT SCHOOLS
In addition to the assessments, Abbott is also directing the TxSSC to work with the TEA to develop and implement a plan to do random, unannounced inspections at schools to assess access control measures.
"Among other reviews, your team should begin conducting in-person, unannounced, random intruder detection audits on school districts," the governor wrote.
The governor said the TxSSC will also be asked to begin working with his office and the state legislature on recommendations to improve current security systems and determine the funding necessary to continue the work of hardening our schools against outside threats.
"Texans have never shirked away from a challenge, and I know with the support of state leadership, we can continue the work of improving each student's experience in our schools," Abbott wrote.
The governor's directive comes hours after he ordered Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan to form special legislative committees to focus and review five issues related to the shooting.