AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott released the School Safety Action Plan Summary, somewhat of a progress report of what’s been done after the deadly Santa Fe High School shooting in May.
The report quotes Dr. Leigh Wall, superintendent of Santa Fe ISD on the first page of the report issued by Abbott and Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath.
“We are in this together,” said Dr. Wall.
It then points to a local incident that could have been deadly. Three students were arrested after police say they were planning an attack on their school at Taylor ISD.
“Coordination from the classroom teacher to the school principal to the school resource officer led to the district arresting the students within one hour of the threats,” Abbott writes in the report. There was already a member of local law enforcement on campus, a measure put in place after the Santa Fe shooting.
Several Central Texas school districts are highlighted in the report.
Comal ISD created a threat assessment program on each campus that includes a team of administrators, counselors, nurse, teacher and a licensed specialist in school psychology. The teams are known as C-SAT teams. Comal ISD has also upgraded classroom door locks, installed push button locks on main entrances, added secure vestibules and changed its public address system to make it easier for emergency first responders.
Round Rock ISD is still in the process of creating a district police department.
Pflugerville ISD, TCOLE and the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office made a campus available for school marshal training.
Austin ISD and Lake Travis ISD are instituting clear bag policies, either for student backpacks or event venues.
Mental Health First Aid on the rise
More than 1,700 school employees were trained in Mental Health First Aid in June and July with the help of state grants. According to the Governor’s Office, that’s a 90 percent increase from last summer.
“Everybody is. We’ve had people throughout the school districts and not just teachers. We’re talking about bus drivers, librarians, the cafeteria monitors, administrators,” said Laura Gold, the director of training at Integral Care in Austin.
Integral Care is the community mental health agency working with UT, AISD and the Travis County Sheriff’s department. It offers an 8-hour course including signs and symptoms and then an action plan.
“It splits it between crisis and non-crisis because we all know in adolescents they can go through a rollercoaster of emotions in one day,” said Gold.
She says the difference comes from actions: if the students are wearing different clothes, sitting with different friends or skipping school.
“I’ve noticed that you sit in the back now, I’d like to know how I can help. That’s really kind of the first [step],” said Gold. That’s when the process begins to work with a counselor or a mental health professional.