Texas Lawmakers Hear Expert Testimony On School Safety
Members of a Texas Senate committee reviewed some of Gov. Greg Abbott’s school safety ideas, and discovered there might not be a perfect solution to securing a school building.
The Texas Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security heard testimony exploring school building design.
Christopher Huckabee, chair of the Texas Society of Architects’ school safety workgroup, said since the Columbine school shooting in 1999, many schools in Texas moved administrative offices to the front of the building to better screen any visitors.
“We can see people as they enter our school. We bring them into a locked down vestibule. They have to scan through traditionally with a driver’s license or something like that,” Huckabee said.
Committee members also discussed how the Texas Education Agency can play a role with some of the governor’s recommendations. Education Commissioner Mike Morath told the committee that there is no foolproof plan for keeping a campus safe during a school shooting.
“We have 8,600 schools, 1,2-hundred school districts across the state, and I can tell you that they all prioritize the safety of their students. But that doesn’t take away from what you see happening, when it happens, like an event in Santa Fe,” Morath said.
Morath said the Texas Education Agency has no regulatory oversight to evaluate a school district’s safety and security protocols.
But, he added, the TEA can direct schools to financial resources needed to implement improvements, like the creation of an active-shooter alert system and installing metal detectors and security systems that lock doors from the inside.
But campus police chiefs said when a shooter is a student and knows all the school's entrances and exits, the best line of defense is a law enforcement officer on the scene who can directly confront that student.