On May 18th, 2018, a teenage gunman shot 12 people at Sante Fe High School near Houston. Ten of those victims died. Over a year later, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law several bills aimed at making Texas schools safer. The pieces of legislation focus on a handful of areas, including the following:
- Additional funding;
- Increasing training;
- Adding mental health resources;
- Creating councils and committees focused on making sure the new requirements are followed.
There were dozens of bills passed during the 86th legislative session. Below is a list of the most significant bills pertaining to school safety.
(Click the title of each bill to be directed to the official document)
This bill was a massive piece of legislation focusing on a wide range of topics. Here are a few of the main ones:
- Created the School Safety Allotment, which set aside $50 million a year for school safety
- Created the Child Mental Health Care Consortium
- Required schools to create an emergency operations plan
KSAT Explains spoke with Josh Sanderson, the deputy director of The Equity Center. He said the school safety allotment “...is actually extremely simple. They appropriate that amount of money, and then you divide that amount of money by the number of students in the state. So it’s what’s considered a per pupil, a per-student, allotment.” According to Sanderson, the allotment amounts to $9.72 per student for school safety each year.
Dr. Steven Pliska, the medical director of the Child Mental Health Care Consortium in San Antonio, said the Child Mental Health Care Consortium is “a partnership with schools. The schools sign up. Then, counselors can offer the service to children and adolescents in those schools, so they talk to the parents of the parents’ consent. Then, they referred to us, and we provide whatever mental health services are needed.”
- Provided a one-time grant of $100 million for schools to apply toward amping up safety measures
Sanderson says the bill “...was designed essentially to help schools go in and retrofit their facilities, doors, locks, vestibules, entrances and exits, vestibules and that type of thing. That was a one-time grant, though. So remember, it doesn’t happen year over year.”
- Addresses school marshalls for both public and charter schools
- Requires schools to have an emergency operation plan for an active school shooter
- Requires school-based law enforcement to undergo active shooter training
- Clarifies the duties of an on-campus officer
- Required bleeding kits on school campuses
- Required proper training on how to use the bleeding kits
- Changed the reasons a student could be removed from a classroom
- Added harassment to the list of reasons a student could be expelled
- Allows students to be suspended for making terroristic threats
- Requires districts to expedite the process of getting students re-entered into classrooms after being released from juvenile justice facilities
This bill addresses multiple topics related to mental health. Here are a few:
- Requires school counselors and staff to be trained in helping a student dealing with mental health issues, substance abuse and trauma intervention
- Adds the requirement for districts to have a curriculum on mental health and substance abuse
- Requires schools to provide mental health and substance abuse resources
- Requires all districts to have one mental health professional that is not a doctor for consultations with school administrators, not students
In the first week of August, Gov. Greg Abbott addressed these bills in a press conference centered around the Uvalde school massacre at Robb Elementary.
“We can see from what happened in Uvalde that in fact those laws either did not have teeth or they were not fully complied with,” Abbott said during the news conference.
In addition, the governor announced the creation of a new position within the Texas Education Agency. He calls the position the Chief School Safety Officer. Their job is to make sure schools are meeting the safety requirements.
The Child Mental Health Consortium is in dire need of additional licensed therapists. For details on how to apply, visit this link, or email your information to email@example.com.