School safety took center stage at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday, as Gov. Greg Abbot hosted the first of three advertised meetings following the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School.
“We all share a common goal, and that is to make sure that we protect innocent lives in the state of Texas,” Abbott said at the start of the meeting. The roundtable featured lawmakers, public safety officials, and school administrators from across the state.
“We’ve got a major problem, we know that, and it’s not a simple fix, it’s not a one thing will do it all, so we’ve got to look at everything,” Wylie ISD Assistant Superintendent Craig Bessent said. He explained that his district is a leader in taking a proactive approach on its campuses, which includes physical barriers.
“Things like bollards, and entry proof glass and locked sally ports, and buzz in/buzz out, but even with all of those physical restrictions, or facility restrictions, there are certain times of the day where we are open, and we know that we are only as strong as our weakest link,” Bessent said.
The meeting was closed to the public and only open to the press for a brief period at the beginning and the end, though Abbott took time for questions at the conclusion of the meeting.
“Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, whether you are pro-gun or believe in more gun regulations, the reality is is that we all want guns out of the hands of those who would try to murder our children,” the governor explained to reporters. “The question is what are we, The leaders of Texas going to do to prevent this from happening again.”
As he summarized the discussion, he said the group came up with both long-term and immediate solutions. One topic brought to the table was the implementation of a statewide threat assessment program, other ideas included more communication between districts and law enforcement, and giving schools access to surveillance camera systems so officials and parents could see what is happening in classrooms. Abbott explained it could be similar to doorbell cameras that allow homeowners to see who is at the front door through a mobile app.
The participants also discussed physical changes to schools, like metal detectors and adjustments to entries and exits.
“We talked about formulating a statewide intelligence monitoring service concerning social media of students,” Abbott added.
“When I look at all of these shootings and the response in the aftermath of them, every single time there is a shooting every one wants to talk about what the problem is,” Abbott said Tuesday. “Well, by now we know what the problem is. The problem is is that innocent people are being shot and that must be stopped.”
Abbott also talked about additional support and grants for programs at the Texas State Safety Center, to help with training.
Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa brought up tapping into the state’s rainy day fund to help pay for the implementation of some of the initiatives that were mentioned.
“We were able to bring up stuff like that that we would normally get shut down for bringing up something but today it was open dialogue,” Hinojosa said.
Wednesday’s meeting was set to focus on gun regulations and mental health, and Thursday’s meeting will address the victims of gun violence and the lasting effects on families.