Natalia ISD buckles down on security to keep students, staff safe

Parents praising security enhancements at Natalia ISD

Among the excitement and usual jitters of Natalia ISD students starting classes Tuesday, parents also praised the efforts by the school district to step up security to keep staff and students safe.

NATALIA, Texas – Parents sending their kids back to school Tuesday praised new security enhancements at Natalia ISD that were recently implemented to keep staff and students safe.

Ruby Vera, a grandmother who was sitting outside Natalia Junior High School on Tuesday, said there were extra jitters for her kids and family on the first day of school. She said she truly believes district leadership has stepped up to bring ease to parents.

“I have complete confidence in the school. They’ve done a really good job over the summer on trying to button up everything,” she said.

Natalia ISD Superintendent Harry Piles said there have been a lot of security updates over the year and a half that he’s been in charge of the district, such as new fencing and more cameras.

After the school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, there was added pressure to look everything over.

“We met all the requirements for the safety. But we always look at -- what can we do better?” Piles said.

Staff now have checks, protocols, and procedures to ensure the campus is safe, such as limiting entry points, staff must wear badges at all times, and documenting the checking of doors.

The district will now have two full-time school resource officers (SROs), and there will be limitations on who’s allowed on campus.

The district is gearing up for the kickoff of the Guardian Program, which will require armed teachers to have additional training beyond what’s required.

“That is one program we’ll be rolling out this year to utilize staff members that will be armed after they’ve been fully trained,” Piles said.

He said while the district has done a lot to update security, they will continue to stay on top of it.

But it’s not just the job of those on staff. It’s the job of the entire community to report anything suspicious.

“We have anonymous reporting, and so that software allows anyone to report -- community member, parents, city council, school board member, student in the classroom -- any time throughout the day,” Piles said.

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