AUSTIN, Texas — Governor Abbott is requesting a complete safety review of Texas public schools, including random, unannounced security checks, in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting.
School security has been in the spotlight after a gunman was able to get into a side door of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on May 24 and killed 19 students and two teachers.
Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter on Wednesday to Dr. Kathy Martinez-Prather directing the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) to begin immediately conducting comprehensive school safety reviews of all Texas public schools.
Abbott wants the organization to ensure that school's individual safety and security committees meet ahead of the new year and come up with plans for each campus's needs. He also wants them to train and review procedures with each campus and conduct unannounced random reviews of school security and campus access.
"The work and trainings provided by the Texas School Safety Center has reached thousands of schools and instructors and has benefited millions of Texas school children," reads the letter. "However, the tragedy at Robb Elementary School last week requires us all to do more. I am charging the TxSSC, in coordination with the TEA, to develop and implement a plan to conduct random inspections to assess access control measures of Texas school districts. Among other reviews, your team should begin conducting in-person, unannounced, random intruder detection audits on school districts. Also, the TxSSC should immediately begin working with my office and the Legislature on recommendations to improve current security systems and determine the funding necessary to continue the work of hardening our schools against outside threats. Texans have never shirked away from a challenge, and I know with the support of state leadership, we can continue the work of improving each student’s experience in our schools."
Abbott wants the TxSSC to give a progress report of findings to the Governor's office and the Legislature by October 1.
On Thursday, Abbott directed the Texas Education Agency to work on strategies to make schools safer.
“You should immediately prepare additional rules to ensure that existing school facilities are also held to heightened safety standards. We must do everything possible to protect children and safeguard our schools,” he wrote in a letter to TEA Commissioner Mike Morath
In a press release, Abbott said he requested TEA to:
- Instruct school districts to identify actions they can take prior to the start of the new school year that will make their campuses more secure.
- Instruct all school districts to conduct weekly inspections of exterior doors to verify they are secure during school hours.
- Develop strategies to encourage school districts to increase the presence of trained law enforcement officers and school marshals on campuses.
This comes after Greg Abbott asked state leaders to form a special legislative committee. In a letter to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan, Abbott outlined topics the committee should consider.
- School safety
- Mental health
- Social media
- Police training
- Firearm safety