Republican Governor of Texas Greg Abbott released a brand new “40-Point School Safety Plan” on Wednesday, which has introduced fresh ideas for protecting students in public schools including arming teachers and hiring Veterans for securing the premises of the educational facilities.
“When an active shooter situation arises, the difference between life and death can be a matter of seconds,” Abbott said. “Trained security personnel can make all the difference.
The new plan from Abbot comes after the deadly shooting in the Sante Fe Independent School District, where survivors of the atrocity including one high school senior from Sante Fe ISD spoke that she would feel safer if teachers were armed.
“Arming teachers, and not knowing who is armed, that is what we need,” said a Santa Fe senior who participated in the Governor’s roundtable discussion.
Her sentiment was shared by many students and parents who attended the event, according to Abbott.
“School marshals serve as one of several options school districts may use to arm security personnel on campus. Some educators stated that the program is not right for their school,” Governor Abbott’s plan states.
Below is the Safety Plan from the Governor of Texas:
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“That may be true, but hundreds of school leaders have found it to be another tool to dissuade potential shooters from attacking their campuses and a strategy to swiftly respond to a shooter if he makes it onto campus,” according to Governor Abbott. “The Legislature should encourage adoption of the school marshal program by improving the program requirements and focusing the training components on those issues that will improve a marshal’s ability to respond to an active shooter.”
One of the recommendations in the plan is to increase the number of school marshals by funding their training this coming summer.
The marshals will be teachers and staff members who voluntarily take the proper firearms training courses, and as per the Governor's plan the Texas Education Agency must issue a letter to all school administrators no later than June 8th, 2018, encouraging them to identify all willing school personnel in order for them participate in the marshal program.
This will be funded from the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division, and all costs of training from June-August of 2018 will be paid to help reduce the threat of active shooters in the upcoming 2018-2019 school year.
As per the 2013 Protection of Texas Children Act, school districts were granted the authority to commission school marshals, and this will be used to protect students.
Current law only allows for one school marshal for every 200 students, equal to about one marshal for every 8-10 classrooms.
Schools should be allowed to recruit up to one marshal for every 100 students, or about one marshal for every 4-5 classrooms, to provide for more comprehensive campus protection with the Governor's recommendations, which will require lawmakers to come into Austin and legislate immediately.
Governor Abbott is also asking to remove the current firearms storage requirement for school marshals who are in direct contact with students, allowing them to carry a firearm safely on their bodies at all times.
Current law requires school marshals to store their firearms in a safe while on campus, making the weapon hard to access and use in the event of a crisis. “Leaving the marshals weapon locked away counters the purpose of having armed security on campus in the first place,” says Governor Abbott. “The storage requirement should be repealed allowing marshals to keep their firearms on their persons.”
This new policy will guarantee that in a worst-case scenario of an active shooter is on campus those marshals will be designated to protect their students and eliminate a threat before the potential injury or death toll can rise.
“If there is consensus on some laws that could be passed, I am open to calling [a special session]," Abbott said.
There is a hope that simply having this armed security in the school it will deter any would-be shooter in the first place. Texas will indeed be a safe state to send your children to school.
“Contrary to some criticism that elementary school teachers, for example, are hired to educate students rather than wield guns, the marshal program is not intended to arm all teachers or to require any teacher to be armed against their will,’ Governor Abbott continued. “Instead, its purpose is to arm any willing school staff member, which often includes school personnel other than teachers. ”
There are already 170 school districts of the 1,000-plus in Texas which have armed guards of some type on campus, and the new change would protect all students statewide.
Schools will also be mandated by law to notify all parents if they believe there is a significant threat to the safety of their children even prior to a shooting occurs. This is a responsible approach.
Through federal funding strategies and grants provided by the Criminal Justice Division in the Office of the Governor, Texas already has access to nearly $70 million in funds to help schools implement these strategies; and as additional federal programs release recently appropriated funds from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, Texas can reasonably expect to successfully compete for an additional $40 million.
Additional funds and strategies can be offered by the State Legislature.
A crisis response team (CRT) consisting of 4-6 rotating crisis certified counselors from the National Organization of Victim Assistance (NOVA) was deployed immediately to provide psychological first aid, trauma mitigation, and education to the community in order to combat mental illnesses.
Schools will also collaborate with local police to add a heightened patrol route near educational facilities, as both a sense of security and a possible deterrent.
Most importantly, the Governor of Texas wants to prioritize the hiring of Veterans of the Armed Forces and retired Police Officers to take on the role of armed security.
These responses are the smartest that have been introduced in the United States of America as per a statewide effort, and it also guarantees that children are kept safe while preventing any trampling upon the Constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.
Thank you, Governor Abbott. Let's hope other states follow suit. This should be a national policy.
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