In wake of Michigan school shooting, here’s how Texas schools handle safety

Texas

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — After a 2018 school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas that killed 10 people, state legislators passed training requirements for school districts to partake in regular threat assessment training — here’s how it works.

Since 2019, school districts across the state have been required to set up “threat assessment teams.” The teams can consist of parents, law enforcement, teachers and more — anyone a district deems as a proper stakeholder.

It’s a multi-part process: filled with interviews, background research, and action steps to take. Dr. Kathy Martinez-Prather — the executive director of the Texas School Safety Center (TSSC) at Texas State University, the group charged with conducting the training — said it’s all about prevention.

“It’s really about early on identification of warning signs, really getting to a student who may be on a pathway to violence, ever before they make a threat,” she said. “Most of these events, someone knew about it before it occurred, there was always some type of leakage, whether it be through some social media platform.”

According to a March research study by the United States Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, all failed school-related attacks were due to someone in the community reporting concerns to local authorities. The study analyzed 67 plots to conduct a school attack that were averted in the United States from 2006 to 2018.

Brian Clason, one of the program trainers with TSSC said the key is providing intervention to students showing warning signs far in advance.

“Most of the time, It’s not going to be that kids showing up with a gun actively shooting,” he said. “Finding the posts online, the conversations that concerned parents are concerned peer, and taking that serious that just because there’s not a gun, the ammo, the plan right in front of you doesn’t mean that tomorrow, next week, a month, a year from now that that doesn’t happen.”

While districts are required by law to have a designated team do annual threat assessment training, there are no required training for all school faculty. School districts are all required to have an anonymous reporting system for suspicious activity or perceived threats.

“The most important part and take away from all of this is that they have a process in place for anonymous reporting and that that anonymous reports that do come in, they’re being tracked in real-time, so that there can be an immediate and effective response,” Martinez-Prather said.

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