New Texas Shool Safety Law Requires Armed Person on Campuses

armed Texas school officer

Texas Lawmakers approve school safety bill that requires an armed person at every Texas school campus

Texas lawmakers have passed a comprehensive school safety measure in response to the tragic Uvalde school shooting, which claimed the lives of 19 children and two adults. The bill, known as House Bill 3, has been sent to Governor Greg Abbott for approval. It includes various provisions aimed at enhancing school security and addressing mental health concerns.

One significant requirement of the bill is the posting of an armed security officer at every school campus. This provision was initially removed by the Senate but was reinstated during negotiations. The armed person can be a peace officer, school resource officer, school marshal, or school district employee.

Opponents of the bill have expressed concerns about the provision mandating armed personnel in schools, arguing that fewer guns, not more, are the solution to preventing mass shootings. Nevertheless, the bill passed in the House with a notable margin of 93-49.

The legislation also grants the state more authority to compel school districts to develop active-shooter plans. It establishes the Texas School Safety Center, which will review best practices for securing campuses every five years. Regional safety teams will conduct intruder detection audits at least once a year.

To ensure accountability and compliance, the bill creates a safety and security department within the Texas Education Agency. This department will have the power to enforce robust active-shooter protocols and supervise school districts failing to meet the agency's standards.

Additionally, the bill requires the TEA to develop standards for notifying parents about "violent activity" on campus and establishes school safety review teams to conduct vulnerability assessments of all school campuses annually.

The legislation allocates funding to support school safety measures. Each school district will receive $15,000 per campus, along with $10 per student, although some officials argue that this amount is insufficient. Furthermore, the TEA will receive $1.1 billion to administer school safety grants across the state's 1,000+ school districts.

One aspect of the bill focuses on mental health training. School employees who regularly interact with children will be required to complete an evidence-based mental health first-aid training program. The TEA will reimburse employees for their time and expenses related to the training.

In counties with fewer than 350,000 residents, the bill mandates semi-annual meetings led by the sheriff to discuss school safety and law enforcement response to violent incidents. These meetings aim to establish clear chains of command and ensure functional communication systems.

The bill also emphasizes coordination between schools and law enforcement agencies. Each school district must provide the Department of Public Safety and other law enforcement agencies with campus walkthroughs and maps to facilitate an efficient and coordinated response in case of emergencies.

The passage of House Bill 3 reflects lawmakers' commitment to prioritizing school safety in the aftermath of the Uvalde tragedy. However, some parents of the Uvalde victims expressed disappointment when a bill they supported to raise the age limit for purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21 failed earlier in the session.

Now awaiting Governor Abbott's approval, this comprehensive legislation aims to enhance security measures, address mental health concerns, and establish protocols to prevent and respond to violent incidents in Texas schools.

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