Districts not applying for extra funds to help protect students who walk to school in high violence areas, TEA says

SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Education Agency says no school districts in the state have applied for available funds that would help with protecting students in high crime areas who walk to and from school.

In 2016, Josue Flores was brutally stabbed while walking home from his middle school in the Houston area. The tragedy sparked a statewide effort to make roads safer for students who walk to school.

Houston lawmaker Rep. Sylvia R. Garcia helped push through Senate Bill 195, an act named after Flores.

“Part of what I tried to do is find a way to protect other children from something like this, from making sure that the sidewalk in high crime areas ... were given some help,” Garcia said.

The Texas Education Agency said no school districts have applied for the funds since they became available in 2017. This specifically applies to children within a 2-mile radius from the school who are not eligible to ride the bus.

Jake Kobersky, a TEA spokesperson, said school districts must provide detailed documentation of the hazards or risk of violence in the area where the funds are needed. Districts are eligible for up to 10% additional funds based on their transportation allotment.

“It would require for the board of trustees to submit a letter to the commissioner of education for access to these funds,” Kobersky said.

The TEA urges any family or community member that sees risks for children who walk to school to reach out to school boards to alert them of the available funds to improve safety for kids. The information is detailed in the TEA School Transportation Allotment Handbook.

Garcia said the state needs to do a better job spreading the information about the available funds.

“I think it’s a question of lack of outreach, a lack of notifying school districts that the funds are there,” Garcia said.

KSAT reached out to several area school districts, many of which were unaware of the extra funds available through TEA.

About the Author

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

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