Sabinal ISD ramping up security to protect students, staff this school year

In light of the Robb Elementary tragedy, school safety has been on the forefront.

SABINAL – Sabinal ISD is taking lessons learned from the Robb Elementary tragedy and implementing new safety changes for this school year.

The Robb Elementary shooting has inspired schools across the state to make serious security changes. Just over 20 miles east of Uvalde in Sabinal, it’s no different.

“When you push that, it’s sending a prerecorded message to dispatch. And also, there’s a GPS responder in here, so they’ll get told what the coordinates are to this door,” said Sabinal ISD Superintendent Richard Grill, referring to the new security installations around the district.

Intruder alarms and fire alarms inside school campuses are signs of the times in Sabinal.

“We’re like the little brother or sister to Uvalde,” Grill said.

Grill walked KSAT 12 through his school district, pointing out the improved classroom doors, tempered glass, and numbers on windows to mark classrooms for law enforcement.

“If they’re trying to determine which kids they need to get out of which rooms or which rooms the bad guys in, they’ll know which classroom this is,” Grill said.

When visitors approach any Sabinal ISD school, they’ll be greeted by a receptionist via a Ring Doorbell camera. They’ll need to show a valid ID before being buzzed into the school.

From there, they’ll need to check in at the front office, where their ID will be scanned, and a background check is done. After that, visitors will be given a visitation badge, and their ID will be held at the front until they check out.

Grill explained that part of his job is learning from the mistakes or downfall of others.

“It’s kind of a morbid thing to do, but nonetheless, my job’s to keep everybody safe here,” he said.

The district is offering staff free license to carry classes this year, a new offering. They can’t have weapons in school like a guardian program, but they can have them in their vehicles if something were to happen.

“I would like to think that I will and others will, just as an instinct to protect the kids and their colleagues,” Grill said.

They’ve also implemented a new Raptor Alert System. While KSAT 12 was in the building, a test alert was sent out to all staff on campus.

“All right. So this is an emergency alert that we’ve just put in place that sends out a notice to all employers and all employees for emergencies,” Grill explained.

The alert sends messages to cellphones, computers, and over the intercom.

Additionally, law enforcement in the area is stepping up its presence on campuses this year, and an undercover armed security guard will patrol the schools.

Grill said there are also new protocols in case of an active shooting for their staff and students.

“As of now, I’m instructing our employees -- we’re not going to hide under our desks to be executed. So we’re going to bail out the windows,” Grill said.

That’s only if it’s safe for the students and staff to do so and there’s no additional threat outside.

About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.

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