A new law now in effect as of Sept. 1 says every single school in Texas must have an armed guard on campus. KPRC 2 Investigates has learned the largest school districts in our area are not ready.
House Bill 3 requires districts to put in place several safety upgrades including adding an armed person on every campus. The bill deadline means school districts must comply with the law or file for an exception and come up with another plan to provide security at each of their campuses.
(In responses from school districts we noticed some say “exemption” and some say “exception”, but the TEA refers to this as an “exception”.)
The bill is the result of the state’s focus on school security after the May 2022 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
School boards must vote for exceptions to law
The Texas Education Agency says: A school board may claim an exception to the September 1st law if they lack the funding or available personnel. Districts that ask for an exception must develop an alternative plan that may include a school marshal or other armed staff member.
Filing an exception gives districts more time to figure out what to do. The TEA says: “There is no date written in the statute for when a district must have armed security at each campus. However, a good cause exception is considered to be in compliance with the law.”
[Helpful FAQ about armed guards in schools.]
Many school districts in Houston area file for exceptions
The Investigates team checked with 20+ districts in our area. The largest district in our area, Houston ISD, says they will seek a “good cause exemption”. HISD tells us they have armed guards at every high school and middle school campus and are in the process of hiring officers to meet the requirements.
Other districts that let us know they were not able to meet the law requirements are Houston ISD, Katy ISD, Cypress Fairbanks ISD, Conroe ISD, Pearland ISD, Friendswood ISD, Fort Bend ISD, Galveston ISD, Goose Creek ISD, Humble ISD, Pasadena ISD, Spring Branch ISD, and Dickinson ISD.
Houston area school districts that ARE in compliance of the new law
School districts in our area that ARE in compliance with the new law include YES Prep, Alvin, Alief, Brazosport, New Caney, Santa Fe, Sheldon, Splendora, Clear Creek, Montgomery, LaPorte, and Magnolia ISDs.
We are waiting to hear back from Klein and Tomball school districts.
(Let us know if there is another district you would like us to check!)
Why are districts unable to meet the requirements of the new bill?
In many of the exception requests, districts mention lack of funding as the reason for not being able to meet the requirements. The TEA says: HB 3 increased the per-student safety allotment by $0.28 per student. In addition, districts will receive $15,000 per campus to implement safety measures.
The bill also requires most school staff to complete mental health training, requires education service centers to serve as school safety resources for districts, and assigns the TEA to monitor the implementation and operation of requirements related to safety.
The Associated Press contacted 60 districts all across Texas and found at least half were unable to comply with the new law.
*We will keep updating this content as school districts respond to our requests.