What laws did Texas pass to make schools safer after the Santa Fe massacre? KSAT Explains

On May 18th, 2018, a teenage gunman shot 12 people at Sante Fe High School near Houston. Ten of those victims died. Over a year later, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law several bills aimed at making Texas schools safer. The pieces of legislation focus on a handful of areas, including the following:

Additional funding;Increasing training;Adding mental health resources;Creating councils and committees focused on making sure the new requirements are followed.

There were dozens of bills passed during the 86th legislative session. Below is a list of the most significant bills pertaining to school safety.

(Click the title of each bill to be directed to the official document)

Senate Bill 11

This bill was a massive piece of legislation focusing on a wide range of topics. Here are a few of the main ones:

Created the School Safety Allotment, which set aside $50 million a year for school safetyCreated the Child Mental Health Care ConsortiumRequired schools to create an emergency operations plan

KSAT Explains spoke with Josh Sanderson, the deputy director of The Equity Center. He said the school safety allotment “…is actually extremely simple. They appropriate that amount of money, and then you divide that amount of money by the number of students in the state. So it’s what’s considered a per pupil, a per-student, allotment.” According to Sanderson, the allotment amounts to $9.72 per student for school safety each year.

Dr. Steven Pliska, the medical director of the Child Mental Health Care Consortium in San Antonio, said the Child Mental Health Care Consortium is “a partnership with schools. The schools sign up. Then, counselors can offer the service to children and adolescents in those schools, so they talk to the parents of the parents’ consent. Then, they referred to us, and we provide whatever mental health services are needed.”

Senate Bill 500

Provided a one-time grant of $100 million for schools to apply toward amping up safety measures

Sanderson says the bill “…was designed essentially to help schools go in and retrofit their facilities, doors, locks, vestibules, entrances and exits, vestibules and that type of thing. That was a one-time grant, though. So remember, it doesn’t happen year over year.”

House Bill 1387

Addresses school marshalls for both public and charter schools

House Bill 2195

Requires schools to have an emergency operation plan for an active school shooterRequires school-based law enforcement to undergo active shooter training

Senate Bill 1707

Clarifies the duties of an on-campus officer

House Bill 496

Required bleeding kits on school campusesRequired proper training on how to use the bleeding kits

Senate Bill 2432

Changed the reasons a student could be removed from a classroomAdded harassment to the list of reasons a student could be expelled

House Bill 3012

Allows students to be suspended for making terroristic threats

House Bill 2184

Requires districts to expedite the process of getting students re-entered into classrooms after being released from juvenile justice facilities

House Bill 18

This bill addresses multiple topics related to mental health. Here are a few:

Requires school counselors and staff to be trained in helping a student dealing with mental health issues, substance abuse and trauma interventionAdds the requirement for districts to have a curriculum on mental health and substance abuse

House Bill 19

Requires schools to provide mental health and substance abuse resourcesRequires all districts to have one mental health professional that is not a doctor for consultations with school administrators, not students

In the first week of August, Gov. Greg Abbott addressed these bills in a press conference centered around the Uvalde school massacre at Robb Elementary.

“We can see from what happened in Uvalde that in fact those laws either did not have teeth or they were not fully complied with,” Abbott said during the news conference.

In addition, the governor announced the creation of a new position within the Texas Education Agency. He calls the position the Chief School Safety Officer. Their job is to make sure schools are meeting the safety requirements.

The Child Mental Health Consortium is in dire need of additional licensed therapists. For details on how to apply, visit this link, or email your information to tchatt@uthscsa.edu.


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