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Governor’s Letter to Texas School Safety Center Demands Culture of Constant Vigilance at Every School Across the State
In response to the horrific school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas on May 24th 2022, Governor Abbott issued a letter to the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) demanding more be done to prevent a repeat tragedy—and there is a deadline set for all districts to meet his expectations.
While he acknowledges that TxSSC’s school law enforcement training and behavioral threat assessment tools has benefitted millions of Texas school children, the Governor wants their help in making sure that more is done. This includes ensuring that all Texas districts follow existing laws and document all efforts of their compliance before the start of the 2022-2023 school year. He also urges the agency to work with Texas legislators for recommendations to improve current security systems and determine the funding necessary to continue the work of hardening schools against outside threats.
What is an Example of a Safety Requirement Covered Under Texas State Law?
According to the letter, Texas school districts are required by law to create School Safety and Security Committees. This is a working group of diverse individuals that serves the members of its school district or open-enrollment charter school by helping create and maintain a safe and secure school climate and culture. These groups are required to meet three times a year, and generally one meeting occurs during the summer. School Safety and Security Committee Guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions can be found here.
Before the start of the 2022-2023 school year, each Texas school district will be held accountable to:
- Ensure their School Safety and Security Committee meets 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 that all staff and substitutes are trained in their specific district and campus safety procedures and that all drills are scheduled before the start of the next school year.
- Assess their access control procedures, such as single access points, locked instruction room doors, visitor check-in procedures, exterior door locks, etc.
Texas districts must complete these efforts by September 1, 2022 and certify this data to the TxSSC by September 9, 2022.
The TxSSC will provide a progress report of these findings to the Office of the Governor and the Legislature by October 1, 2022. The Governor will work with TxSSC, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and the Texas Legislature to hold accountable any districts that do not meet these requirements.
How Can School Districts Meet the TxSSC Mandates Regarding EOPs?
School emergency management is an active exercise that gets refined as research is conducted, lessons are learned, and new safety threats emerge. Your emergency operations plan (EOP) must include all phases of emergency management—from mitigation to response and recovery. The EOP covers the entire timeline of different possible incidents, detailing how you will keep your school community safe whenever, however, and wherever an emergency strikes.
Texas Senate Bill 11, passed in the 2019 Legislative Session, gave the TxSSC significant additional authority to audit School Safety Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs). In their 2017-2020 audit, the TxSSC found that only 67 Texas districts—out of 1,022—had sufficient EOPs, meaning they met best practices, state mandates, and had items such as: a basic plan, hazard analysis, communicable disease annex, and a continuity of operation plan, among other core components. The same audit concluded that over 625 Texas districts do not have an active shooter policy in place.
Every Texas district is required to submit an EOP for review. If a school district fails to do so, they are required by state law to hold a meeting to notify the public of their noncompliance. If they fail to do that, the TEA can take over school leadership and ensure the district takes these responsibilities seriously.
How Can Schools Build a School Safety Ecosystem to Support Their EOP?
A school safety ecosystem is a toolbox of various components that considers things like safety and security, response and recovery processes, and what technology or software the school will use to prepare for and streamline emergency response. While writing the EOP, the district must consider how they will use technology to enhance school safety.
The Raptor School Safety Suite is a valuable component of the ecosystem. Raptor helps schools keep unwanted entrants out, manage volunteers, and confidently respond to any emergency—all in one, user-friendly integrated suite.
Based in Houston, Raptor has been working for 20 years to help keep Texas students and staff safe. During that time, in Texas alone, Raptor software has:
- Screened over 228 million visitors
- Alerted schools to nearly 130,000 sex offenders
- Generated over 200,000 custom alerts, typically associated with custody issues
- Checked over 330,000 volunteers and logged over 1.1 million volunteer hours
- Recorded in the last two years, nearly 3,000 emergency alerts and school safety drills
A new integration platform enables native, bi-directional integration with a school’s digital security systems and peripherals. This means you can activate an emergency response from a single point—a panic alert application—instead of activating separate systems.
For more on how to design the best Emergency Management approach and thereby comply with the Texas Senate Bill 11, download our free eBook: Guide to K-12 Emergency Management; Proven Strategies to Protect Your School.
Guide to K-12 Emergency Management
Proven Strategies to Protect Your School