The Texas senate approved a new school safety bill giving the Texas Education Agency the authority to enforce school safety plans. Following the shooting at Ross Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, a special committee was created to better address school safety.
Led by Senator Robert Nichols, the committee heard testimony from experts and developed recommendations to improve the administration, funding and practice of school safety in Texas. These recommendations were offered to the Senate for consideration in the form of SB 11.
One issue faced by districts trying to grapple with the issue of school safety was that there wasn't a clear delineation of authority between state agencies involved with school safety issues. SB 11 creates a new Office of Safety and Security at TEA, headed up by a governor-appointed and Senate-confirmed Chief of School Safety.
This office will work with the Texas School Safety Center in San Marcos to develop standards for school emergency plans, and will review and approve plans submitted by districts. Districts who fail to meet state standards could have a conservator assigned to oversee school safety.
Schools will be subject to one intruder detection audit per year, where School Safety Center personnel will test how easy it is for an unidentified adult to access the campus. Every fourth inspection would be a more detailed vulnerability audit that reviews campus emergency operations procedures and access control.
SB 11 would require that all school-based law enforcement officers undergo active shooter training. Other provisions in the bill shorten the time line before a chronically truant student is referred to truancy court, require notification of parents of any violent event on any campus in a school district and requires districts to share disciplinary records and behavioral health assessments of any new or transferring students.