Almost a year after the Santa Fe High School shooting, state lawmakers hope to pass a bill to strengthen school safety. The Texas School Safety Bill, officially Senate Bill 11, calls for a comprehensive school safety program, requiring emergency response training for all district staff, establishing “threat assessment teams” to help identify troubled or potentially violent students, and create more student mental health programs and suicide prevention programs.
Texas School Safety Bill Proposed Continuity Throughout the State
The proposed Texas school safety bill creates a process to ensure continuity throughout the state, assuring that all school districts are following the same guidelines when it comes to the safety of the children.
Ryan Searles, VP of Risk Management at The Texas Group, a fellow San Antonio-based company, was interviewed for his thoughts on this bill. Searles develops customized curriculum on a variety of topics, including active shooter response, and also conducts corporate training, vulnerability, threat and risk assessments for enterprises.
According to Searles, educators and business owners need to know what to look for. “How do we recognize someone that has certain signals and are showing risks for tendencies to commit violence? And how do we get them help before that happens?”
These comments, especially in light of today’s news that a concerned parent noticed signs of distress in her child and others and reported those concerns to the school in December, months before the shooting. For more on that, today’s CNN story is here: Concerned parent describes ‘pressure-cooker’ environment at site of Colorado school shooting.
Other elements of the Texas School Safety Bill were the product of Gov. Greg Abbott’s discussions with parents, students, educators, law enforcement and mental health experts on school safety. Gov. Abbott made school safety one of his top priorities, after the Santa Fe High School tragedy last May, when a student armed with a pistol and a shotgun killed 10 people.
Here Are Some of the Details of the Changes Proposed in Senate Bill 11
Some of the changes proposed in Senate Bill 11, the Texas School Safety Bill, include:
- Create a committee in each school district to audit the safety of school campuses, then make recommendations on how to make each school safer. In addition, all schools must have a multi-hazard emergency operations plan.
- Require the Texas Education Agency to ensure that building standards provide a safe and secure environment. The bill offers a grant program for one-time facility hardening for schools.
- Require all teachers, including substitute teachers, receive safety training and have access to a phone or electronic device to allow for quick connection to first responders in the event of an emergency.
- Mandate that district mental health authorities employ a non physician mental health professional to serve as a resource and provide training to school district personnel.
- Schools would be required to establish Safe and Supportive Care teams comprised of school personnel.
- Training educators on methods of interacting with students coping with past trauma.
- Offering loan repayment assistance to those who serve as school counselors and licensed specialists on school psychology.
Grants Are Available for School Security Improvements
There there are both federal and state grands that schools can apply for to assist with school security improvements. Here’s an article we wrote on that earlier this year: Three Grants for School Security Improvements to Apply for in 2019.
Our team works with school districts on grant programs on a regular basis. If we can assist you with a security system review, making recommendations, and finding the right grant to apply for, we stand ready to help. You can reach me directly by email, or call me at 210-545-1770, ext. 114. My team and I here to help in any way you need it.
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