Texas Governor Orders Random School Inspections in Bid to Ensure ‘Culture of Constant Vigilance’

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Directive Comes After Mass Shooting at Robb Elementary School

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has instructed state officials to start carrying out random inspections at schools in the state.

The Republican governor directed the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) to coordinate with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to “develop and implement a plan to conduct random inspections to assess access control measures of Texas school districts.”

“Among other reviews, your team should begin conducting in-person, unannounced, random intruder detection audits on school districts,” Abbott said in a letter (pdf) to the state’s school security officials.

“Staff should approach campuses to find weak points and how quickly they can penetrate buildings without being stopped,” he said.

“This will help determine if schools are prepared to implement and follow the [Emergency Operations Plans] they have already submitted to the state,” he added. “This will improve accountability and ensure school districts are following the plans they create.”

The order comes after a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. An 18-year-old shooter had entered the school via a back door that was unlocked, according to the latest account of the situation by officials.

In his letter to Kathy Martinez-Prather, the director of the TxSSC, Abbott said more needs to be done after the tragic massacre. He also outlined several measures to “ensure that a culture of constant vigilance is engrained in every campus and in every school district employee across the state.”

State law requires school districts to create school security committees that are required to meet three times a year. Abbott asked Martinez-Prather to contact every school district to let them know they are expected to meet once this coming summer and to carry out several safety measures before the start of the 2022-2023 school year—specifically by Sept. 1, 2022, and report to the TxSSC by Sept. 9, 2022.

The measures include ensuring their security committee reviews their plans in cases of emergency and active threats. It also includes ensuring that all staff and substitute teachers are trained on the safety procedures of their specific campus and that all drills are scheduled before the start of the next school year.

By Mimi Nguyen Ly

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