Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is hosting three roundtable discussions this week on guns and school safety. (GABRIEL C. PÉREZ / KUT)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is hosting three roundtable discussions this week in response to the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. The first roundtable, held Tuesday, focused on “school and community safety.”
The meeting was private, but afterward Abbott read reporters “a list of suggestions and ideas that came out of” the discussions.
He said these ideas will help Texas lawmakers come up with new policy to stop gun violence.
Some proposals are familiar, while others may seem new. Many of them – especially ones encouraging more counseling and “threat assessment” at schools – appear to overlap.
Here are the ideas the governor shared:
1. Adding “more behavioral counseling with increase of staffing” at schools.
2. “Creating threat assessment teams.” Abbott said the development of a statewide threat assessment program received universal support during the roundtable.
3. Mandating “better coordination between school and law enforcement officials.”
4. Creating “programs that reward students for sharing information” about potential shooters.
5. Implementing strategies that “make it easier to share information.”
6. Upgrading “physical facilities, especially entryways, exits and cameras” to protect schools.
7. Creating “a statewide intelligence-monitoring service concerning social media of students.”
8. Encouraging schools to hire “early intervention counselors starting even as early as kindergarten, certainly elementary.”
9. “Hardening our schools” to make them physically more secure against school shooters.
10. Ensuring school administrators better share information about potentially dangerous students among schools across the state.
11. Mandating “collaboration between law enforcement and schools” to create emergency action plans.
12. Creating “comprehensive training, informing students, parents and teachers how to relay information.”
13. Putting officers at “the front” of schools.
14. Improving “training for the school marshal program,” which trains teachers and staff to carry firearms on campus.
15. Boosting funding for the school marshal program, to make sure every school can participate if it wants to.
16. Increasing parent accountability. “How in the world can a parent either not know about or not be accountable for a situation where a student may be bringing a gun or a knife to a school?” Abbott said. “Parents are partly responsible for this and need to be held accountable.”
17. “Mandating parent training.”
18. Intervening with students who “have demonstrated challenges, probably through a more robust school counselor process – intervening into behavior that could lead to school shootings.”
19. Developing threat-assessment programs for all schools in Texas.
20. Putting more metal detectors in schools. “They work for some schools, in other settings they may not work,” the governor said. “It needs to be one of the strategies on the table.”
21. Identifying mental health challenges for students and helping respond to those challenges and get students the counseling they need.
22. Creating an app to view streaming video of school security cameras. “Why can we not allow parents, students and law enforcements and others to be able to monitor, basically on a 24-7 basis, the cameras in these schools?” Abbott said.
Abbott said the threat assessment system was something state and school officials “should be able to have in place before the school year begins.”
“There will be recommendations coming from School Safety Center [at Texas State] about ways in which schools can immediately make their schools safer places,” he said. “Simple things: entrances and exits, adding law enforcement.”