An outpouring of Southeast Texas school districts announced plans this week to bolster security measures through the end of the academic year in response to Friday’s horrific high school shooting in the nearby Santa Fe Independent School District.
These Houston-area school districts have offered thoughts and prayers for the victims, while emphasizing they remain on heightened alert during these final weeks of school. Many advised they increased police presence until the end of the school year. This includes the Aldine, Alief, Alvin, Bay City, Clear Creek, Cypress-Fairbanks (Cy-Fair), Dayton, Dickinson, Katy, Klein, Pasadena, Sweeny, and Texas City independent school districts, according to KPRC.
Administrators hope to dispel fears families may have about sending their children to school. In letters to their respective communities, district officials underscored their commitment to school safety and recapped existing or new security measures in place. KTRK reported that Pearland ISD reassured parents that school employees and administrators recently participated in Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) training led by the Pearland Police Department.
Cy-Fair ISD Superintendent Mark Henry told families that, in addition to more officers, the district would strictly enforce its dress code through the end of the year. He requested “that no student wear trench coats or other heavy clothing that could potentially conceal weapons.”
Fort Bend ISD dedicated a webpage to ongoing school safety procedures such as “active shooter” protocol re-training put in place following the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting in February. Fort Bend ISD noted its Community Safety Advisory committee met several times to discuss how to enhance security and will present their findings at a June school board meeting.
Galveston ISD was one of several school districts that requested parents keep children’s backpacks, gym bags, and purses at home if students do not need them. They asked parents to inspect all bags that come to school. “Effective Monday, bags may be subject to search under heightened security measures,” wrote Superintendent Kelli Moulton in a May 20 letter to families. While the school district has a campus police force, Moulton said she also reached out to the City of Galveston Police Department and other local municipalities for “an extra layer of police presence at our schools until the end of the school year.”
Meanwhile, the state’s largest school district, Houston ISD, addressed ways they beefed up safety procedures this year. This included upping the number of campus active emergency drills, adding an Emergency Response Team, “realistic, hands-on officer training” in an armed assailant situation, and providing school district police with additional safety equipment for an active shooter emergency. In a letter to families, Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan stated the Houston ISD Police Department is the only accredited public school district police force in the nation. It consists of more than 200 officers.
After Parkland, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered state education officials to shore up existing school safety programs. Some schools conducted random backpack searches, while others added canine patrols, security entryway vestibules, extra campus police, student ID badges, and districts implemented clear book bag policies. Breitbart Texas has reported on the plethora of safety programs and services the state’s school districts use to prevent active school shooter situations — campus police forces, surveillance systems, telemedicine, the Standard Response Protocol. Some schools arm teachers with Guardian or Marshal plans, and such active shooter training as Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate (ALICE).
On Tuesday, Abbott held the first of three roundtable discussions with state education professionals, lawmakers, and police to figure out how to make schools safer.
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