Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for a review of school safety requirements and additional hardening one week after 19 students and two teachers were gunned down in Uvalde.
Governor Abbott directed the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) to “immediately begin working with my office and the Legislature on recommendations to improve current security systems and determine the funding necessary to continue the work of hardening our schools against outside threats.”
The governor’s direction came in a letter to TxSCC Director Dr. Kathy Martinez-Prather on Wednesday. The governor directed the TxSCC to make certain all School Safety and Security Committees meet before the beginning of the 2022-2023 academic year begins.
He also directed the center to make certain that School Behavioral Threat Assessment teams are trained and up to date with procedures for each campus.
The letter calls for:
- 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 on their specific district and campus safety procedures and that all drills are scheduled before the start of the next school year.
- Conduct an assessment of their access control procedures, such as single access points, locked instruction room doors, visitor check-in procedures, exterior door locks, etc.
- Complete these efforts by September 1, 2022, and certify this data to the TxSSC by September 9, 2022.
“Among other reviews, your team should begin conducting in-person, unannounced, random intruder detection audits on school districts,” the governor wrote. “Staff should approach campuses to find weak points and how quickly they can penetrate buildings without being stopped.”
“To the extent you need additional resources to accomplish the tasks outlined in this letter, I will work with leaders in the Texas Senate and House and state agencies to ensure you have those resources,” Abbott added.
The governor emphasized new authority granted to the TxSCC by the passage of SB 11 in the 2019 Legislative Session.
“If a school district fails to satisfactorily submit an EOP, they are required by state law to hold a meeting to notify the public of their noncompliance,” Abbott warned. “If they fail to do that, the TEA can take over school leadership and ensure the district takes these responsibilities seriously. I will work with TEA to hold accountable any ISD that is not in compliance with these standards.”
Initially, Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw reported that the Robb Elementary School shooter gained entrance to the school through a propped-open door. On Tuesday, DPS officials walked back that statement and revealed a teacher had indeed closed the door, but it failed to auto-lock as designed, Breitbart Texas reported.
Other school security features that failed to protect the students of the school include a four-foot-high chain link fence the gunman quickly scaled.
The immediate availability of classroom door keys also appears to be a contributing factor which kept police from gaining entry. DPS officials cannot definitively state when authorities obtained the keys from a janitor.
“The tragedy at Robb Elementary School last week requires us all to do more,” Governor Abbott stated.