The Fort Bend ISD safety advisory committee recommended in August, 12 options to be incorporated into the district’s safety and security master plan, including the use of door locks, added training for students and staff, student ID badges and an incident reporting phone app.
No specific timeline for implementation has been set as staff is still working through the details, said FBISD Police Chief David Rider.
“There’s never going to be one answer,” board President Jason Burdine said. “All of these are small pieces of the puzzle. We want to be proactive.”
The safety advisory committee researched viable measures for FBISD district leaders to adopt on campuses, and members—made up of both residents, public safety professionals, educators and students—focused mainly on 14 topics. Two suggestions were ruled out due to a lack of support: allowing staff to carry firearms and installing metal detectors on campuses.
Ideas that were deemed worthy of consideration included the installation of fencing around portable classrooms and participation in a school marshal program to allow trained, armed, anonymous individuals to patrol campuses. Marshals must be an employee of the district with a license to carry firearms, pass a psychological evaluation and complete required training, according to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. Passed in 2013, House Bill 1009 allows school districts to appoint school marshals to prevent deaths or injuries on campuses.
There are many unknown factors to consider regarding the school marshal program, Rider said.
Trustee Dave Rosenthal said a potential marshal program may work. Other trustees, including Jim Rice and Grayle James, said funding would be better spent on hiring additional police officers.
Another topic of discussion revolved around fencing, which may not be optimal for certain campuses, depending on the location of portable buildings and material of the fences, Rider said. There is also the potential challenge if students need to quickly exit the facilities in case of emergencies like fire.
The focus is on taking preventive action to ensure safety in schools, Superintendent Charles Dupre said.
“We’re always going to have those people who are out of school who may choose to do harm, but the data is showing us there are many young people; if someone would have helped them, they would never have taken that step,” Dupre said. “Our efforts are spent trying to do the social and emotional engagement.”
While some options, such as door locks, ID badges and fencing require bond funding, the FBISD Police Department has already taken steps to provide additional training for officers and options for incident reporting platforms.