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A new report from Gov. Greg Abbott says the state has taken steps to make schools safer.

Mock weapons are used to train educators in Harrold. The North Texas school district was the first to allow educators to carry guns on school grounds, starting in 2007.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

The Texas House expanded a sweeping school safety bill that now calls for students to learn about domestic violence prevention, requires certain training for school resource officers, and would provide an undetermined amount of state money for campus security measures and mental health initiatives.

From drafting new safety plans to increasing mental health resources on campuses, Texas lawmakers have varied proposals for addressing school safety this legislative session.

From Texas Standard:

The possibility of an emergency at a school isn’t an idea most of us like to dwell on. But as schools continue to be targets for those intent on causing widespread harm, training teachers and kids on what to do “just in case” has become common practice.

But though it’s common, that training is hardly standardized across Texas – or even at different schools within the same county. That’s why one Texas county decided to take the lead on designing a program to get everyone on the same page – that includes even the very youngest students.

Lawmakers returned to Austin this month for the first time since the Santa Fe High School shooting, and they have repeatedly assured that school safety will take center stage during the legislative session.
Associated Press

 

Following a deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School in May that left 10 dead and 13 others wounded, Gov. Greg Abbott released a 43-page school safety plan outlining suggestions for bills the Legislature could pass this session to reduce the threat of gun violence in Texas schools.

The number of Texas school districts with policies allowing teachers and other staff to carry guns has increased almost 50 percent since the shooting at Santa Fe High School in May took 10 lives.


Rachel Zein for The Texas Tribune

Federal education officials are considering letting school districts use federal money to buy guns for educators — and the idea may have come from Texas, according to national education outlet Education Week.

Back-to-school shopping has been different this year for Annette Holder, whose son Clayton is an incoming freshman at Santa Fe High School.

The school’s new metal detectors mean more composition books, fewer three-ring binders – or really anything with metal.

As students prepare to go back to school, more and more parents are thinking about school safety. A recent poll found 34 percent of parents fear for their child's physical safety at school. That's almost triple the number of parents from 2013.

How Texas Educators Train Before Arming Themselves At School

Aug 14, 2018
The Texas Tribune

PFLUGERVILLE — A gaggle of reporters clustered last week near shelves of picture books and signs marked "Love" and "Read" in the Windermere Elementary School library.

Then shots rang. The reporters jolted back, their iPhones shaking in surprise. A gunman ran through the hallway until he was shot down by a masked educator.

Rachel Zein for The Texas Tribune

A special Texas Senate committee devoted to fighting school violence has recommended improving mental health resources for students and increasing funding for a program that arms some members of school staff, but shied away from any measures aiming to limit access to guns.

David J. Phillip / AP

Texas schools have been adding metal detectors and armed personnel in an effort to improve campus security in response to the deadly May attack at a Houston-area high school that left eight students and two teachers dead.

Among the steps that Texas apparently won't be taking anytime soon is tightening restrictions on gun access for people deemed dangerous to themselves or others.

David J. Phillip / AP

Police officers have long had a presence in public schools. But since the deadly school shootings in Santa Fe and Parkland, Florida, more Texas school children have found themselves facing police for actions the authors of a new study view as kids just being kids.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

More than a month after a deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School left 10 dead and 13 injured, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is taking steps to tighten security in the southeast Texas school district, part of an effort by the state’s Republican leadership to “harden” schools as targets.

Rachel Zein for The Texas Tribune

Wylie Independent School District prepares for armed intruders in a variety of ways, from active shooter drills to safety-themed coloring books. Some school staff are trained to be armed marshals and are ready to shoot if there's a threat.

Lara Solt for KERA News

Across Texas and the country, many campuses conduct active shooter drills. Because school shootings are often perpetrated by students who attend those schools, some raise a concern: Do these drills give potential shooters too much inside information? 

A group of law enforcement officers told Texas senators today that they don't think the governor's plan to “harden” schools is the best way to keep students safe.

“Give us more campus officers,” Joe Curiel, police chief for San Antonio Independent School District Police Department, told the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security.

Texas Launches Mobile App To Help People Report Suspicious Activity

Jun 9, 2018
John Jordan/The Texas Tribune

A new mobile app launched after a southeast Texas high school shooting last month will allow Texans to report on suspicious activity happening in their own communities and schools. 

The Trump administration's school safety commission held its first public listening session Wednesday, a day after the panel's chair, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the commission wouldn't focus on guns.

Alessia Modjarrad, a graduating high school senior from Montgomery County, Md., spoke at the day-long event at the Education Department in D.C. She said the few solutions being offered by the administration were "misguided and insufficient."

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Two days after Gov. Greg Abbott released a 40-page school safety plan, Texas House and Senate leaders ordered their committees to study ways to limit shootings and increase protections in Texas public schools before students return in August.

From Texas Standard:

Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to curb school shootings has embraced an idea championed by an El Paso Democrat, State Rep. Joe Moody. The idea is called a “red flag law.”

Moody says his proposed legislation calls for a mechanism by which a person who is in crisis, and poses an eminent danger to themselves or others when guns are present, would lose access to their firearms. He says similar laws exist in other states, and at the federal level.

Gabriel C. Perez / KUT News

Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday offered several immediate and long-term strategies to improve school safety in Texas. 

"March for Our Guns" organizer Brent Webber opened the rally in Helena, Mont., on Saturday with a fiery speech: "Our freedoms come first. No one will infringe on our right to keep and bear arms."

Webber spoke to hundreds of people gathered near the steps of the state Capitol. They were there in response to calls for stricter gun control measures at "March for Our Lives" rallies in Montana and across the country.

Similar pro-gun marches were held in Utah, Idaho and other states.

Nearly three-fourths of U.S. teachers do not want to carry guns in school, and they overwhelmingly favor gun control measures over security steps meant to "harden" schools, according to a new Gallup poll.

After the Columbine school shooting in 1999, the Texas Legislature created the School Safety Center, a research center at Texas State University that helps schools prepare for different kinds of disasters.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Thursday was an uneasy day for schools in Dallas and others across the country. Two days after Los Angeles schools closed down because of threats, districts in Dallas, Houston and Florida decided to stay open after receiving similar threats.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

The school bus of the future is here for kids in Dallas County Schools. At first glance, you may notice nothing new. But there are security cameras inside and out, a GPS tracker and alerts, seatbelts -- and even a thumbprint ID scanner.

Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The shooting left 20 students and six adults dead. It also caused school districts and lawmakers across the country to re-examine security protocols in schools – including Texas. 

“When you talk about Sandy Hook Elementary and what happened that day – I think that a lot of people believe that it created or caused a reaction by law enforcement, first responders – that somehow changed from what we had been doing," says Austin School District Police Chief Eric Mendez.

In Dallas at least, school zone lights have been flashing this week, and some cars have even slowed down to the required 20 mph. But hitting the brakes is not required yet, say school officials. That’s because school isn’t in session until this coming Monday.

The legal, slower speed limit is not in force until then. Apparently, officials activate the lights in advance to make sure the flashers work and to remind drivers that school’s about to start. But come Monday, tickets will be issued.

dagnyg / flickr.com

A bill creating school marshals is headed to the Governor for his signature. The state Senate gave final approval to the bill today.

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