School Safety & Security Mandates: Random Audits Coming in 2022-2023

by Taylor Garner

Following the tragedy at Robb Elementary School, state educational leaders, legislators, and community members are seeking assurances from school districts across Texas regarding safety and security plans and procedures. The Texas House of Representatives Investigative Committee recently released a 77-page report detailing the Uvalde shooting and the extent to which the Uvalde ISD acted in accordance with their established school safety plan.

In the report, the House Committee analyzed whether the Uvalde ISD’s safety plan was adopted and executed under Texas Education Code § 37.108. Section 37.108 requires each school district to adopt and implement an emergency operations plan. Among other things, the plan must include training for responding to an emergency; measures to ensure proper communication technology and infrastructure in the event of an emergency; mandatory drills or exercises; measures to ensure coordination with local emergency management agencies; and the implementation of a safety and security audit. Tex. Educ. Code § 37.108(a). At least once every three years, each school district must conduct a safety and security audit of the district’s facilities in accordance with the procedures developed by the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC). Tex. Educ. Code § 37.108(b).

In his June 1st letter, Governor Abbott set forth specific expectations for districts that must be completed by September 1, 2022, and certified to the TxSSC by September 9, 2022. The requirements include that districts ensure their School Safety and Security Committee meets to review their Emergency Operations Plan and address any campus safety needs—including the Active Threat plan. Texas Education Code § 37.109 requires each school district to establish a school safety and security committee in accordance with guidelines from the TxSSC. Tex. Educ. Code § 37.109(a)-(b).

At a minimum, the committee must meet three times per year—at least once during each academic semester and at least once during the summer. The committee is subject to Chapter 551 of the Government Code and may meet in executive session as provided by that chapter. Notice of a committee meeting must be posted in the same manner as notice of a meeting of the district’s board of trustees. Tex. Educ. Code § 37.109(c).

Governor Abbott has tasked TxSSC, in coordination with TEA, to develop and implement a plan to conduct random, in-person inspections and audits to assess access control measures to school district buildings. If you have questions or concerns regarding your district’s safety and security plan or committee responsibilities, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Leasor Crass, P.C.

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