Texas schools host safety conference to discuss response to mass shootings

How do we best safeguard students against the ever-present threat of someone using schools as the setting for mass shootings?

That was the focus of a school safety conference at the Region 10 Education Service Center in Richardson on Tuesday.

The training brought people there to discuss risk of, response to and recovery from what continues to happen in urban and rural settings: school shootings.

A 911 call was played at the conference from one of the two officers who were inside Santa Fe Texas High School in 2018 when a student opened fire. That's how the Safety First School Conference opened.

The officer was shot. Among 23 hit by gunfire that day, 10 would die. The shooter was a student who was never a problem.

"I will tell you that I do believe that there are red flags with that kind of individual somewhere," said retired Santa Fe ISD Superintendent Leigh Wall. "But they had not been identified in the school setting."

"The value of an event like this is that you have school administrators, you have counselors and you have law enforcement together attending a conference each one of them sees their problem differently," said Craig Miller, a security and school safety consultant. "I think events like this bring people together and let them understand how important it is to collaborate."

Dr. Wall was superintendent at Santa Fe schools five years ago. She now shares lessons learned.

"One of the things that we can learn here is that you can be prepared, and you still might have something. But I think in that learning is be prepared to respond as well as prepared for prevention and then the recovery piece as well," she said. 

In May 2019, two students planned to kill every classmate in room 107 at the highlands Ranch STEM Charter High School. 

When they pulled guns, Kendrick Castillo jumped out of his chair, attacking one of the shooters. He was shot and died, but other students followed his lead.


Student killed in Colorado STEM school shooting reportedly lunged at gunman

The father of a student killed in a Colorado high school shooting on Tuesday said his son was a hero and he wanted people to know about him.

George Brauchler, the former district attorney where the shooting happened, says that made all the difference.

"If you look at this case with STEM, it was a fellow student and the speed of that response saved lives," he said. "There is no one fix to these things in terms of preventing them, but it seems to be the best response to addressing them once they happen is just speed."

Wall wants lawmakers to move Texas school districts towards minimum security and accountability standards.

"You want all of your children and neighbors’ children and next city over, all those schools to have safe schools," she said.