Gov. Abbott pens letter to TEA directing them to create new Chief of School Safety and Security position

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference at Uvalde High School on May 25, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. On May 24, 21 people were killed, including 19 children, during a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School. The shooter, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was reportedly killed by law enforcement. (Photo by Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images) (Jordan Vonderhaar, 2022 Getty Images)

AUSTIN, Texas – Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that he sent a letter directing the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner Mike Morath to create the new position of Chief of School Safety and Security.

Abbott said the Chief of School Safety and Security will be a recognized expert on school security and public safety issues, an effective coordinator of multidisciplinary teams, a resource to school districts and the legislature, and effective at implementing programs. The individual serving as Chief of School Safety and Security will report directly to the TEA Commissioner and have a direct line to the office of the Governor to ensure increased communication and collaboration among state agencies to provide a safe environment for Texas students and school faculty.

“The task of ensuring the safety of our schools and students is not solely held within one entity in the state but encompasses many different agencies and divisions, all with different charges and authority in implementing legislation and making recommendations for future policy changes,” the letter reads, in part. “While we have seen these agencies work together earnestly in the wake of the tragedy in Uvalde, a single point of contact to coordinate such efforts, now and in the future, would further improve their services. That is why I charge you with creating the position of Chief of School Safety and Security within the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The Chief must ensure that Texas schools are implementing the school safety policies passed by the legislature and take every action possible to ensure that schools are using best practices to safeguard against school shootings or other dangers.”

READ THE FULL LETTER BELOW:

Gov. Abbott said his office has taken actions to provide resources to support the Uvalde community following the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School. Those actions include:

  • Initiating the State of Texas’ comprehensive plan to assist and support members of the community, including co-locating state agency representatives to the Family Assistance Center for on-hand assistance in finding benefits.
  • Issuing a disaster declaration at the request of local leaders to accelerate all available state and local resources to assist the Uvalde community.
  • Requesting Texas legislative leaders convene special legislative committees to begin examining and developing legislative recommendations on school safety, mental health, social media, police training, firearm safety, and more.
  • Directing the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) to begin immediately conducting comprehensive school safety reviews to ensure all Texas public schools are following the appropriate procedures to maximize school safety.
  • Directing the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to provide strategies to make Texas public schools safer through heightened safety standards.
  • Instructing the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) programs to provide training to all school districts across the state, prioritizing school-based law enforcement.
  • Directing TEA, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to expand and accelerate the ability to report suspicious activity through the iWatchTexas reporting system.
  • Investing an initial $5 million into establishing a long-term Family Resiliency Center in Uvalde County to serve as a hub for community services, including access to critical mental health resources.
  • Working with the OneStar Foundation to create a one-stop webpage for donations to support the victims’ families, teachers, and the Uvalde community.
  • Directing the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to ensure all children in Uvalde have access to behavioral health resources and community support.

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