Dallas ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde addressed the district’s push to increase security during an Aug. 2 press conference.

“The safety and security of our team, our staff and our students is always going to be a responsibility that we put to all others,” Elizalde said. “We want to continue to have the safe schools that we have had in the past so that our students and our team can enjoy teaching and learning and growing together.”

The district is reassessing its safety and security in response to concerns following mass shootings, such as the one in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24.

According to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that provides public access to gun violence data, there have been over 30 mass shootings in Texas this year. The organization defines a mass shooting as a single incident where at least four people are injured or killed by a bullet.

During the press conference, Elizalde said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed gun violence as the No. 1 hazard to teens and children in America today since 2020.

DISD has already begun to implement new procedures to increase safety, Elizalde said.

DISD officials announced July 18 that it will require the use of clear or mesh backpacks for students in sixth through 12th grades starting in the 2022-23 school year. In addition, Elizalde said the district is in the process of implementing the use of nearly $95 million for safety and security improvements that were approved during the 2020 bond election.

This includes $49.5 million provided for security cameras, $37.5 million for keyless entry access and $5 million for a weapons detection system.

“Safety is a very complex problem, and the truth is that there is no right answer,” Elizalde said. “This is going to require a multiprong approach with our safety and security protocols. It's not going to be fixed or corrected overnight, so we're going to continue to employ some of the things that have kept our schools safe over the years.”

During the press conference, John Lawton, the DISD Police Department chief of police, spoke to the importance of the district’s commitment to safety and cooperation with other nearby law enforcement.

“Our partnerships are very important for us,” Lawton said. “Not only through figuring out who's going to be in charge and understanding protocols, but how we're going to work together and communicate amongst each other.”

DISD funds a staff of approximately 200 officers for the district’s more than 220 campuses. This police department costs the district about $17 million annually.

According to the district’s website, DISD emergency management officials conducted an assessment of the district’s safety policies for locked doors during the summer. In addition, all campuses are scheduled to have an additional review of safety and intervention measures completed in August.