Whatever the legislature may decide, school systems in Texas already have certain security measures available to them, including some used by Uvalde CISD.
What complicates the conservation is the fact that Texas requires few of these security measures to be enacted.
The Texas Education Code allows broad discretion to local school systems for most decisions. As a general rule in Texas law, the actions school systems “may” take far outweigh the actions they “shall” take.
School security is no exception. Over time, the Texas legislature has stocked a toolbox of security measures it allows public schools to use, but few are mandatory.
For example, a school district may require visitors to show identification, verify whether a visitor is a registered sex offender, or create a database of visitor information. However, no singular source tracks how many of the 1,200 school districts and charters in Texas have adopted these policies.
School districts can also employ security personnel or commission their own police forces.
District police departments are distinct from school resource officers, which are local police officers employed at the school.
Security personnel can only carry weapons if they are commissioned peace officers. However, state law also allows school districts and charters to let regular staff members carry guns as school marshals.
While school marshal programs have been authorized by the state since 2013, the earliest known school district in the country to allow teachers to carry guns was Harrold ISD in 2008. By the time former president Donald Trump suggested arming teachers after the Santa Fe shooting in 2018, hundreds of school boards around Texas had already made that decision.
The Texas legislature has tinkered with the school marshal program in every session since it was officially created in 2013. The most recent amendment to the law, added last year, allows school marshals to carry handguns on their person even during regular contact with students.
While regular citizens no longer need a license to carry handguns, school marshals still have to undergo 80 hours of training.
The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) uses some of these protocols. According to the district’s security measures summary, Uvalde CISD employs its own police force, school resource officers, and security personnel.
Every campus on Uvalde CISD also employs a threat assessment team, meant to identify potential threats to school security. Social media threats are also monitored.
Several campuses, including Robb Elementary School, are enclosed by fencing that “is designed to limit and/or restrict access to individuals without a need to be on the campus.”
According to the security document, the district keeps a locked classroom door policy.
“Teachers are instructed to keep their classroom doors closed and locked at all times,” the document reads.
Governor Greg Abbott has also asked the Texas School Safety Center to ensure that each school district reviews its emergency operations plan and sent a similar directive to the Texas Education Agency.
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