Abbott orders review of school safety in Texas

Abbott orders review of school safety in Texas

Isabel Webb Carey
Isabel Webb Carey
|
June 3, 2022

Following the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, which left 19 children and two adults dead, Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday ordered a review of school safety in Texas and called for special legislative recommendations.

In a letter to the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC), Abbott said that the university-level research center at Texas State University must conduct comprehensive school safety reviews to confirm all Texas public schools are following state law on active threat plans. These include single access points, locked classroom doors, visitor check-in procedures and exterior door locks. TxSSC must also undertake random inspections. The governor requested a progress report to his office by October 1.

“Your team should begin conducting in-person, unannounced, random intruder detection audits on school districts,” Abbott wrote. “Also, the TxSSC should immediately begin working with my office and the Legislature on recommendations to improve current security systems and determine the funding necessary to continue the work of hardening our schools against outside threats.”

From the Legislature, Abbott has asked legislative leaders to create special legislative committees, though stopped short of calling for a special session. In a letter to House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Abbott wrote that the state “must reassess the twin issues of school safety and mass violence.” He said the committee process should start “immediately” and outlined five topics he would like the committees to take up. Firearm safety was among the topics the governor noted, though his attention since the massacre has largely focused on school safety, mental health, social media and police training. Last week, Abbott implied that he had ruled out gun restrictions as a response to the massacre.

A special legislative session has attracted some bipartisan support. Abbott’s critics have urged for stronger action in response to the shooting and noted that special committees after mass shootings in 2019 were ineffective in preventing another. Among them is Abbott’s Democratic challenger for reelection, Beto O’Rourke.

“Anyone can call for a committee. Only a governor can call a special session,” O’Rourke tweeted. “Do your job.”

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Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey attends the University of Texas at Austin in the Plan II Honors Program with a certificate in Core Texts and Ideas. Her interests include education, local governance, sustainability, and equity. Isabel enjoys dancing, hiking, and live music. She is also a staff writer for the Texas Orator. Email her at isabelwebbcarey@gmail.com
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