Jun 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Texas Gov. calls for unannounced school safety audits

exas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference about the mass shooting at Uvalde High School on May 27, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has announced a new school safety review process that will include "in-person, unannounced, random intruder detection audits on school districts."

Why it matters: On Wednesday, Abbott called on state lawmakers to find solutions to "prevent future school shootings," in the wake of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Driving the news: Abbott sent a letter to Dr. Kathy Martinez-Prather that directed the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) to ask for school districts' School Safety and Security Committees to meet before the new school year and review their emergency plans and address any needs.

  • The letter requested schools make sure their threat assessment teams, as well as all staff, including substitute teachers, are "trained on their specific district and campus safety procedures."
  • Abbott also asked the TxSSC to conduct "unannounced, random intruder detection audits on school districts" in order to "assess access control measures of Texas school districts."
  • He also asked the TxSSC to work with his office to develop new security systems.

What they’re saying: “This is a new, enhanced level of audits,” Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze told Axios. “Until now, the TxSSC has been conducting reviews of school districts’ emergency operations plans, following the passage of SB 11 in 2019. This is an audit of the implementation of those plans, specifically targeted to access control procedures.” 

State of play: Texas school districts conduct safety and security audits every three years, The Texas Tribune reports.

  • Districts’ plans and audits are not made publicly available, but schools should provide a summary, according to the Texas Association of School Boards.
  • Axios has reached out to the governor's office for clarification.

The big picture: Abbott asked state lawmakers to develop new solutions for school safety, mental health, social media, police training and firearm safety in order to "prevent future school shootings."

  • Gun control was not listed among the areas of focus.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note that the Texas Association of School Boards says schools should provide a summary of audits, but that they aren't asked to.

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