This story is part of a KXAN series of reports called “Stop Mass Shootings,” providing context and exploring solutions surrounding gun violence in the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting. We want our reports to be a resource for Texans, as well as for lawmakers who are convening a month after the events in Uvalde to discuss how the state should move forward. Explore all “Stop Mass Shootings” stories by clicking here.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath told senators Tuesday his agency is conducting a review of every school in Texas this summer, including an evaluation of exterior and interior doors, facility issues that need to be repaired and school safety plans and procedures in response to the shooting at Robb Elementary that killed 19 children and two teachers.
It came after earlier revelations the classroom door where an 18-year-old gunman walked into, killing 21 people, was unlocked at the time of the shooting and was impossible to lock from the inside, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw.
Morath told lawmakers he “did not know” if newly built school campuses would have doors that could lock from the inside and the outside of the classroom. KXAN reached out to the Texas Education Agency for further information.
“I need to know that – that block that was up there today there is no excuse. That was probably universally in old school: the lock of choice,” said Sen. Charles Perry. “To have it where a teacher cannot lock it from the inside is unconscionable.”
Despite the doors only locking from the outside, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s own school policy required teachers, and even substitute teachers, to keep their classroom doors “closed and always locked,” district records show.
It is unclear how many other school districts within Texas have similar lock mechanisms within their school buildings. KXAN has asked every school district in the Austin area and will update this report as districts respond.
A spokesperson for the Hays Consolidated Independent School District said, “some of their older campuses may have locks that require a key from the outside to set it to lock rather than with a lock knob on the inside of the classroom.” The spokesperson added, “all of the doors, for fire code, are not locked from people who are on the inside in case they have to exit.”
“Door locks and upgrades are certainly on the short list of items to consider since it appears that an unlocked door likely contributed to the shooting at Uvalde,” said Hays CISD spokesperson Tim Savoy.
The Eanes Independent School District spokesperson said they do have mechanisms for classrooms to lock on the inside.
The spokesperson for the Austin Independent School District said, “classroom doors should be able to be locked from the inside,” adding the school district has never rekeyed school buildings. Many buildings are more than 50 years old with the original keys.
“It is estimated that to rekey as the district is right now would be about [$10 million] and could not be handled by any current budget that we have,” said Chief of Communications Jason Stanford. “We plan to rekey doors when the next bond passes.”