State leaders have responded to the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde with a flurry of directives to state agencies and promises to enact policies to bolster school safety, improve police training and broaden access to mental health care.
But so far, Gov. Greg Abbott has not called a special legislative session to address those issues before the next school year begins in August. Unless Abbott calls a special session, the Legislature won’t convene until January 2023.
Meanwhile, families of the victims as well as survivors have been calling for action in Congress, including an 11-year-old who told her story to a U.S. House committee on Wednesday.
TCTA member Arnulfo Reyes, who was wounded in the shooting, recently talked about his experience with Good Morning America. Reyes sustained serious injuries during the shooting and his sister has established a GoFundMe account to help with his medical expenses.
To prepare for the next school year, Abbott sent a letter directing Education Commissioner Mike Morath to create the position of Chief of School Safety and Security within the Texas Education Agency.
Abbott directed the Texas School Safety Center to ensure that all school districts are complying with state laws pertaining to campus security, training and preparedness. He also called for “in-person, unannounced, random intruder detection audits” to test access control measures at schools around the state.
“The State must work beyond writing words on paper and ensuring that the laws are being followed; it must also ensure that a culture of constant vigilance is engrained in every campus and in every school district employee across the state,” Abbott wrote.
Abbott also underscored the importance of the iWatchTexas reporting system, which was created in the wake of the 2018 school shooting in Santa Fe. Suspicious activity can be reported at iwatchtx.org, through the iWatchTexas mobile app, or by calling 844-643-2251.
In the Texas House, a newly appointed investigative committee has begun looking into the law enforcement response at Robb Elementary, and Speaker Dade Phelan expanded the existing Select Committee on Youth, Health and Safety to include several House members whose communities have been affected by mass shootings.
On the Senate side, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick created a Special Committee to Protect All Texans that will examine school safety, mental health, social media, police training and firearm safety. Patrick also called for an immediate $50 million investment to provide bulletproof shields for school law enforcement.
As lawmakers discuss policies, TCTA wants to know what measures our members think would help improve school security and keep students and educators safe so we can share your thoughts with state officials.