88th LegislatureEducationState SenateMultiple School Safety Bills Filed in Texas Senate to Fulfill Legislative Priority

Members of the upper chamber of the Texas Legislature have offered a variety of proposals to strengthen school security.
March 9, 2023
School security has been named a priority issue for state leaders like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott, with senators filing numerous bills to address the issue with a variety of approaches to beef up campus security and take preventative measures.

Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) announced the filing of his “safety six” legislation, six different bills relating to school safety.

One of the main reforms offered in Bettencourt’s slate, Senate Bill (SB) 1630, creates a mandatory procedure for handling truancy cases, specifically setting notification requirements and providing for a school attendance officer to perform home visits and inspect living conditions.

In a press release, Bettencourt noted that schools in the Houston area had over 130,000 truancy cases in the 2021-2022 school year, and indicated that school shooters like the gunman at Robb Elementary School had hundreds of unexcused absences that went unchecked.

“Bottom line is, we’ve got to do something about school attendance and truancy because this is not trending well for the kids, their families, or society,” Bettencourt said in a statement regarding the bill.

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Other proposals in the safety six bills include requiring a student’s disciplinary record and threat assessment files to be sent to any new schools the student transfers to.

Another bill, SB 1631, establishes a grant program that provides $3,000 to every school campus to help fund school marshals and guardian programs.

Bettencourt isn’t the only member of the Senate with school safety proposals this session.

Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) has filed SB 11, which provides a lengthy variety of safety-related reforms such as creating a school safety resource committee provided through regional educational centers, requiring the Texas Education Agency to monitor campus security and safety requirements, and ensuring disciplinary records follow students to new schools.

The legislation also provides school security grants of up to $15,000 per campus to school districts across the state.

One other school security option being offered is SB 147 by Sen. Drew Springer (R-Muenster), which would allow school districts and charter schools in counties with less than 150,000 people to bring in retired police officers and veterans as volunteer school security, with approval from the school board and after completing a background check.

School safety and security was named one of Patrick’s top 30 legislative priority issues for the Texas Senate last month, and with the legislature now moving forward at full steam, pending legislation will start seeing committee hearings set soon.


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Matt Stringer

Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy. He graduated from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.