Abbott says he wants school safety standards to be improved and schools must comply

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GREENVILLE, Texas (TSWT) In Greenville on Wednesday, Governor Greg Abbott told TSWT that 11 school security laws passed by the Texas legislature after the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School in 2018 fell short.

School safety and security are top of mind again this year after the deadly mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde claimed the lives of 19 students and their two teachers.

“From what happened in Uvalde, we can see that those laws actually had no teeth or they weren’t fully enforced,” Abbott said. “And so we expect to do two things: one is, we expect to agree on even more improved standards and make sure teeth are on the way so there will be compliance. I would add, we will make sure there are will be accountable at all levels throughout the process.”

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The governor’s comments come as school districts across Texas open their doors this month to millions of students, their teachers and other educators and staff.

School districts are required to check all exterior doors of every school and facility before the New Year begins and every week thereafter.

They must also complete partial security audits.

At a state Senate committee hearing in June, the director of the Texas School Safety Center said they do not conduct compliance checks on the schools themselves because it is not clear whether they have the authority to do so.

When asked by TSWT 11 whether that should change, Governor Abbott said, “It’s changed. I’ve made an announcement about how it’s going to change and there’s going to be an announcement about its fulfillment soon.”

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“Here’s how it changed. I’ve created a new position, the Chief School Safety Officer in the Texas Education Agency,” Abbott said. “That person and their team will ensure that schools across the state of Texas are compliant. They will work with the Texas School Safety Center and the ALERRT program as well as the local school ISD police and the local police to ensure that all these schools are in line with the standards. We all agree on one thing: we want our schools to be safe. We agree that we should have the best security standard programs and we agree that those protocols should be followed. We will run all three of these components.”

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Two Texas House committees, the Youth Health & Safety, Select and Homeland Security & Public Safety, will hold their second joint hearing on Monday, Aug. 8.

Their first hearing took place at the end of June.

Last month, the Texas House Committee investigating the tragedy and the harshly criticized response from law enforcement released a preliminary 77-page report.

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