Discussing TEA mandatory school safety and security measures
DESOTO – Following the deadly school shooting in Uvalde and a threat impacting DeSoto ISD on the 2nd day of school, safety is top of mind for all schools including DeSoto.
The threat occurred at DeSoto’s Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy. It prompted DeSoto Police to take precautionary steps closing that school and three other schools in the district.
KJTMA campus was cleared room by room and heightened security put in place with the help of nearby Glenn Heights, Lancaster, and Cedar Hill Police Departments and the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.
That threat was a phone call made by a juvenile that investigators have in custody. However, the safety and security implementations outlined by DeSoto’s Deputy Superintendent Gene Morrow at the ISD board meeting examines incidents like that one and additional situations as well.
Morrow presented the safety and security item stating it pertains to the district’s implementation of the mandatory school safety and security measures as they have been mandated by the Texas Education Agency this summer.
DeSoto ISD Place 4 Trustee Tiffany Clark commended Morrow regarding the security incident by expressing she believed “communication was amazing.”
Even so, protocols for emergency communication, mandatory safety drills and safety planning will be stepped up due to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s mandate that was issued in May requiring districts to take part in school inspections by TEA related to safety and security. The requirements include an inspection of all exterior doors.
The ISD’s safety and security committee will meet and perform ongoing weekly door inspections that are to be carried out during the 2022/2023 school year, a district door policy revising protocols, safety and security, and shooter detection audits.
Three Phases of TEA Audits
Morrow said, “According to TEA they are going to be doing audits, which will consist of three phrases.”
Phase 1 will be an exterior door breach in which an auditor will come to the campus and try to breach one of three exterior doors.
“If they are successful,” Morrow explained “they will walk immediately to the front office and notify the principal they have breached the building and they will start the conversation.”
Phase 2 is the inspection of the weekly logs that campuses are required to provide regarding the weekly door checks.
Phase 3 will be the classroom door policy inspection.
“If the campuses have one, which we do, we are requiring that all classroom doors be locked during instruction,” Morrow explained. “The inspector will randomly sample three to five doors to make sure they are locked. The results of the audit will be communicated to the superintendent.”
These audits will begin September 12.
The ISD Trustees were advised as well that due to the sensitive nature of school security the specific details related to the implementation of the security and safety protocols could not be revealed.
“We can tell you the district is adhering to all the components of the emergency operation procedures and will continue to do so on a regular basis that exceeds the TEA requirements,” Morrow concluded. “What we can share is our district’s safety and security committee met and engaged in some tough dialogue that will improve our emergency responses. There will be monthly safety and security meetings at the campus and district level to reflect and define our current protocols and we will collaborate more frequently with our first responder partners.”