Texas Education Agency Releases Draft School Safety Recommendations

The proposed rules include default locking on exterior doors, numbering systems on exterior doors, and panic alarms, among other things.

Texas Education Agency Releases Draft School Safety Recommendations

(Photo: eyegelb, Adobe Stock)

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) released Thursday its proposed school safety standards for all K-12 public schools in the state

After the Uvalde school shooting, Governor Greg Abbott charged TEA with creating rules to ensure a minimum level of safety on Texas school campuses. Abbott also ordered the group to determine the costs associated with added school security measures.

The suggested rules first address access control, stating all exterior doors, exterior classroom doors, and portable doors “should operate as fully intended” and are required to remain closed, latched, and locked, and “allow for emergency egress from the inside while remaining locked.” This recommendation comes after a preliminary investigative report of the Robb Elementary School shooting determined the door the shooter entered through unobstructed was supposed to be locked at all times.

As an exception, the proposed rule states doors can be unlocked during the instructional day if they are “actively monitored or within a secured area.” Additional access control recommendations include installing entry-resistant film on windowed doors on the ground level or windows that are adjacent to or near a door and are large enough to allow someone to enter if broken. Exterior secure master key lock boxes are also suggested.

Panic alarm systems would consist of a button that school staff could press either physically or on a phone that notifies all staff and school administrators and initiates a 911 call. If campuses have electronic locking systems on their doors, the alarm would lock all the doors. The system must also include the location of where the alert was triggered to aid law enforcement response.

To further aid in law enforcement response, the education agency suggests an exterior door numbering site plan be readily available in the main office and shared digitally with local police.

Additionally, it suggests exterior door sweeps be conducted weekly to ensure all doors are working and locking properly. Issues must be reported to the school safety and security committee and the principal. According to the preliminary report, a Robb Elementary teacher told administrators several times that the lock to Room 111 was faulty and needed extra effort to ensure it was engaged but no work order was placed. The report says the gunman likely entered the classroom through that door where he killed 19 students and two teachers in adjoining rooms.

The proposed rules are still in a preliminary stage and won’t be up for a final review until at least December, reports The Austin Statesman. If the rules are adopted, districts would need to start implementing changes immediately. Public comments on the proposed changes can be made from Nov. 11 to Dec. 12.A more detailed proposal can be found here.

TEA’s proposed requirements come after Abbott announced on Oct. 3 an additional $400 million for school districts to upgrade doors, windows, fences, and other safety equipment. The money will be distributed based on enrollment, but smaller districts will get at least $200,000.

TEA says it will establish a grant to support its proposed rules. The 2023-2025 School Safety Standards Formula Grant will allow for pre-award for items purchased on or after June 1, 2022. The grant program will calculate its allocations based on a per-pupil amount. However, some school leaders are calling on state legislators to increase the per-pupil allocation. Dallas Independent School District (ISD), for instance, wants the amount increased to at least $200, according to The Dallas Morning News. Texas schools currently get around $10 per-student allotment for safety needs.

About the Author

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Senior Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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