Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on June 1 called for a review of safety measures in Texas public schools in order to maximize the safety of students in the wake of the May 24 shooting in Uvalde.
But the Texas State Teachers Association wants to see more action and legislation.
“We don’t need more committees on school safety,” TSTA President Ovidia Molina said in a news release.
Molina said in the release that school safety was studied after shootings in Santa Fe in 2018 and El Paso in 2019. But “schools obviously aren’t safe from mass shooters,” she said.
TSTA wants lawmakers to enact laws that “keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,” the release said.
Abbott sent a letter June 1 to Kathy Martinez-Prather, director of the Texas School Safety Center, asking that she ensure school districts meet over the summer to discuss safety measures and train staff. School districts are required by Texas law to create school safety and security committees, according to the letter.
The letter states the committees are required to meet three times per year, typically with one meeting in the summer. Before the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, the governor’s office requires that all public school districts meet and address safety needs; train staff and substitute teachers on safety procedures; schedule schoolwide safety drills; and assess all building access procedures, such as single access points and locked classroom doors.
All districts are required to complete these safety tasks by Sept. 1 and report their findings by Sept. 9. The organization will then provide the governor and the Texas Legislature with a statewide safety report by Oct. 1, according to the release.
Abbott said in the letter that he will work with the TxSSC, the Texas Education Agency and the Legislature to “hold accountable any districts that do not meet these requirements.”
The TxSSC must also begin conducting random safety inspections of local school districts, which will include assessments of schools’ intruder detection procedures. Staff should see how quickly they can approach and enter school buildings without being stopped, the letter said.
The organization should immediately begin working with the governor’s office and lawmakers to continue to improve school safety and access funding to help promote these goals, Abbott said in the letter.
“You have my full support to make recommendations for consideration by the Legislature,” Abbott said, indicating that school safety will likely be a major focus of the 2023 legislative session.
On June 1, Abbott also called for the formation of two special legislative committees to investigate school safety and mass violence.