Monitor school safety legislation, both implementation of laws enacted in 2019 and legislation filed in the 87th legislative session.
In the wake of two shootings in Texas – including one at a public high school, state legislators in 2019 sought to address what could be done to create a safer environment for students. Texas PTA will advocate to maintain policies adopted in 2019 and support legislation that further increases safety in our schools.
Several school safety bills were signed into law that, among other things:
• Increased mental health training for educators and other school professionals and improved students’ access to mental and behavioral health services;
• Allocated money to school districts and charter schools that can go toward “hardening” their campuses;
• Gave the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) more authority to guide the development of and to review school district and charter school multi-hazard emergency operations plans;
• Required ISDs and charter schools to:
• Establish behavioral threat assessment teams (BTAT) to help identify potentially dangerous students and determine the best ways to intervene before they become violent. A BTAT assesses and reports individuals who make threats of violence or exhibit harmful, threatening, or violent behavior, and analyzes data to determine the level of risk and appropriate intervention. The team serves as a safety net for the community and school by conducting a fact-based, investigative approach to determining how likely a person is to carry out a threat of violence; identifying, assessing and managing appropriate interventions of individuals who are at risk for violence against themselves or others; and providing guidance to students and school employees on recognizing harmful, threatening, or violent behavior that may pose a threat to the community, school, or individual.
• Establish safe and supportive school programs that use multilevel systems of supports to address school climate, social and emotional development, and behavioral and mental health among students; and
• Adopt policies to implement trauma-informed practices and staff training.
• Train employees - including substitute teachers - to respond to emergencies;
• Ensure training for school resource officers;
• Established a Texas Mental Health Consortium, aimed at bringing together psychiatric professionals from Texas medical schools and other health care providers to connect children to mental health services.
• Strengthened communication between school and parents by:
• Requiring school officials to notify parents about risks involving their children and to seek consent from parents before students undergo mental health screenings or receive mental health services;
• Allowing ISDs and charter schools to provide all parents and families information on identifying risk factors, accessing resources for treatment or support provided on or off campus, and accessing available student accommodations.
• Increasing the information that must be shared with parents about available counseling in and out of school.
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