North Texas schools working on Gov. Abbott's plan to improve school security

Many school districts have spent the summer making security improvements in the wake of the Santa Fe school shooting.

In May, Governor Greg Abbott unveiled a 40-point plan to improve school security. While a lot of districts have been working to harden their campuses since the Sandy Hook shooting, there is still a lot of work to be done. Now, many school districts are putting a much stronger focus on behavioral threat assessment tools.

Pat Lamb is the director of security at Garland ISD. He showed how the district is working to secure the entrances at schools built long before mass school shootings became a trend. 

Garland ISD — like Arlington ISD — began to add secured entrances with two sets of doors after a bond vote in 2014, about two years after Sandy Hook.

In addition to elementary schools, all Arlington junior high schools this school year will also have camera buzzer systems so school staff can determine if someone has legitimate business being inside the school.

“Every front office has an emergency alert button that will notify police,” said Leslie Birdow, spokesperson for Arlington ISD.

Out of the eight North Texas school districts that responded to FOX 4’s questions, the majority said they have increased: door lock equipment, cameras, active shooter training, school security personnel, mental health services and tip reporting awareness.

“We have known that students don't do as well, nor to teachers, if they are looking over in fear,” Lamb said. “Our job is to remove as much as possible fear and intimidation so kids can explore education in a safe environment.”

It is one reason Lamb says it is their policy to keep classroom doors locked.

“So you don't have to worry about what's on the outside, just the inside,” he said.

This year, Garland ISD is working to enhance its behavioral threat assessment program, one of the governor's recommendations.

“The mental health first aid is a spot on idea, not necessarily what the student did, but why,” Lamb said. “Let's get to the heart to help student understand why he did it.”

School districts say for the most part the governor's plan has not provided any additional funding for security.

In response to our questions about what if any changes to security school districts have made after the governor released his 40 recommendations, this is how some of North Texas's largest districts responded. Some districts provided changes they began to make even before the Governor released his recommendations. This list is a sampling of district responses, and should not be considered comprehensive of everything a district is doing:

FOX 4 also reached out to Irving ISD, but the district says it does not discuss security measures.