Sweeping school safety legislation has cleared a major hurdle in the Texas Legislature.
The Texas House passed the bill on Tuesday after the Texas Senate passed it last month. The bill needs to go back to the Senate so it can approve changes from the House. It can then head to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott.
Former Dallas Police Deputy Chief and Dallas ISD Chief of Police Craig Miller says Senate Bill 11 is unparalleled in its “holistic approach” to making public and charter schools safer.
“I think it is historic,” Miller said, who now runs the Chief Miller Safety Group. “That'll play a role in the lives of everyone who is alive today in the State of Texas as we move forward.”
The legislation comes following the horrific Santa Fe High School mass shooting in May 2018 that left ten dead and thirteen injured.
“As it relates to school security, we have put together what I think is a well thought out package of initiatives,” State Sen. Royce West (D – Dallas), one of the bill’s authors.
SB 11 strengthens school security, requires safety infrastructure designed facilities, increases mental health components and creates threat assessment teams.
“The threat assessment teams are there to do just that -- to assess a threat, not there to diagnose or prescribe or administer any type of treatment,” said State Rep. Dr. Greg Bonnen (R – Galveston).
West said the school safety bill is not an unfunded mandate.
“We put together an allotment,” West said. “We put in over $550 million as an allotment, monies to help secure our schools.”
The measure also removes limits on how many school marshals a district may have and allows them to keep their weapons on them.
“When it was first created you had to keep your gun locked. If you’re a campus school teacher in a classroom, you had to keep that in a box. Well, that’s not really rational if you’re in the cafeteria or on the school ground and you wouldn’t be able to get to your gun in the event of an emergency,” Miller said.
If the Senate doesn’t sign off on the House changes to the bill, a conference committee will take up the legislation.