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March 26 Education Hearing To Focus On School Security, Student Safety

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School security and student safety will be the prime focus Tuesday morning’s Texas House of Representatives Public Education Committee hearing.
At least 35 bills have been posted by the group for the hearing which begins at 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 26. Testimony for each is to be limited to 2 minutes.
Below is a sampling of some of those bills pertaining to school security and student safety, as prepared by Texas Association of School Boards Governmental Relations:
  • HB 17 is a broad school security bill that requires the commissioner of education to adopt or amend rules for building standards of new and existing school facilities that ensure a secure and safe environment. The bill also requires updates to district emergency operations plans, including inclusion of direct communication devices between classrooms and emergency services (district or otherwise); training for substitute teachers; provisions for ensuring safety of students in portables; and immediate notification of parents when student health and safety is threatened. If a district is out of compliance with its plan, the board would have to hold a public hearing to notify the public of its failure to comply, the dates of noncompliance, and names of trustees and superintendents serving during that time. Noncompliance could also be grounds for appointment of a conservator or board of managers for the district. The bill also makes changes to the membership and duties of district school safety and security committees. The commissioner would have to work with the Texas School Safety Centerand state fire marshal to adopt rules on school evacuation procedures and the number of mandatory school drills (not to exceed 10 drills).
  • HB 366 requires the SBOE to create curriculum for and districts to provide education on healthy relationships, to include developing healthy, age-appropriate relationships; developing healthy life skills such as critical thinking and problem solving; and promoting effective communication between adolescents and their families.
  • HB 567 requires the commissioner to adjust a district’s wealth per student by deducting the amount of revenue per student in weighted average daily attendance used for campus security costs the previous year.
  • HB 734 allows licensed trustees and superintendents to carry a concealed or holstered handgun into a board meeting.
  • HB 876 requires all districts that commission a peace officer to provide model training curriculum and required training before 180 days after the officer is commissioned. Previous statute limited the requirement to districts with enrollment larger than 30,000 students.
  • HB 973 allows the state to impose an administrative penalty not to exceed the district superintendent’s salary if the district fails to comply with emergency operations plans, audits, or memoranda of understanding.
  • HB 974 shortens to two years the time between district security audits and requires districts to check the identification of any person entering a campus for an event that is not open to the public.
  • HB 975/HB 976 requires trustees to complete State Board of Education/Texas School Safety Center developed training on school safety. HB 976 is more prescriptive, calling for training every three years and for new trustees to complete the training by the first anniversary of their election.
  • HB 1026 requires the SBOE to incorporate positive character traits into the essential knowledge and skills for K-12. ISDs and charters would then have to adopt a character education program and annually report the program to TEA.
  • HB 1106 permits private schools to appoint school marshals and removes the limit of one marshal per 200 students or one marshal per building for public and private schools.
  • HB 1143 prohibits a district or charter from regulating how people with licenses to carry handguns store firearms or ammunition in their vehicles school parking areas as long as the firearms or ammunition are not in plain view.
  • HB 1312 allows districts to contract with local mental health authorities to provide mental health services on campus and, at the request of a parent or guardian, such a provider may provide mental or behavioral health assessments to the student’s primary care physician. Districts would be able to enroll as a provider under the medial assistance program to provide and receive reimbursement for provision of mental health services to students who are medical assistance recipients.
  • HB 1387 removes the limit of one school marshal per 200 students for public schools.
  • HB 1467 mandates ratios between mental health professionals and school law enforcement officers.
  • HB 1471 allows qualified retired law enforcement officers and veterans to serve as school security volunteers.
  • HB 1496 requires a law enforcement officer who learns of a person contemplating school violence to, as soon as practicable, report the threat to the superintendent. The superintendent must then notify appropriate instructional and support personnel.
    For a full list of bills, visit https://capitol.texas.gov/Committees/MeetingsByCmte.aspx?Leg=86&Chamber=H&CmteCode=C400
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Author: Faith Huffman

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