NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A new report by the State Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security is making 19 recommendations.
The report comes one week before the school year starts for some North Texas school districts.
Among the Select Committee’s 19 recommendations, the legislature should consider boosting money for mental health resources and physical security on campuses.
Democratic State Senator Royce West of Dallas, one of nine State Senators on the committee, says lawmakers must remember that the more than 1,000 districts statewide can’t be treated all the same way. “One size doesn’t fit all, so we need to have school districts have the flexibility to do what they think is the best for students in their district.”
Rena Honea, is President of the Dallas Alliance AFT, which represents teachers and others at the Dallas ISD. “We don’t need more unfunded mandates from the state.”
She says lawmakers can’t expect school districts to pay for all these improvements by themselves, when they don’t get enough money from the state as it is. “You can make all the recommendations you want, but if they don’t put their money where their mouth is to help this happen, it’s not going to do us any good.”
Republican State Senator Don Huffines of Dallas, also on the Select Committee, issued a statement: “School safety is a complex, non-partisan issue, and it will be a top priority in the 2019 Texas Legislature. As a member of the committee, I spent many hours listening to the best, brightest experts and leaders from various fields and disciplines. This report takes a multi-faceted, non-partisan approach to a complex issue. Texas kids and schools deserve to have the best protection available to them, and the Texas Legislature will help school districts deliver on that goal.”
Republican State Senator Kelly Hancock of Arlington issued a statement that read in part: “One of these recommendations is to expand funding for the voluntary school marshal program, which was created by HB 1009, a bill I carried in the Senate during the 83rd Legislative Session. School marshals are school personnel trained to respond to active shooter situations by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. I would encourage more schools to take advantage of school marshal training, because the bottom line is this: Should an attack occur, the ability to respond in seconds rather than minutes can save lives.”
Senator West said, “If a school wants to have a Marshal, that’s fine, but again, that person should be licensed, should be trained and there needs to be a relationship if you will between local law enforcement and that Marshal so that if that happens, God forbid, that local law enforcement can distinguish friend from foe.”
Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick have recently said they don’t believe the state needs any new red flag laws to keep guns away from people considered an immediate threat.
Instead of new laws, the Senate committee recommended the state clarify the law when it comes to returning firearms to those who were once detained, but no longer a threat.
Senator West said, “We need to take a look at that to see if there are any gaps if you will that need to be filled.”
He encourages residents to read the Select Committee report, contact their state lawmakers, and mention their top three priorities.
While the report has recommendations, the real work of passing legislation and a budget will come in January when the legislative session begins.
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