Education

Houston ISD needs more equipment for active shooter situation, superintendent says

HISD Superintendent says he is asking the board for 200 rifles and ballistic shields in order to be prepared for an active shooter situation.

Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media

After saying that Houston ISD was not prepared for an active shooter situation last week, HISD Superintendent Millard House II said that his administration is putting several items on the board’s Thursday meeting that would allow them to purchase necessary equipment.

The equipment includes 200 rifles and ballistic shields for all HISD officers.

“I’m confident that the board and I are fully aligned on the importance of keeping our students and staff safe and looking forward to the discussion that we will have tomorrow evening,” House said during a Wednesday afternoon presser.

House said they have increased scrutiny of HISD’s safety systems since the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde that left 19 students dead. Evidence showed that officers waited over an hour before confronting the gunman.

“Of course, our police officers participate in annual active shooter training every year and coordinate those trainings with our law enforcement partners at HPD, Harris County Sheriff’s Department and the Houston Fire Department and many other neighboring partners throughout Harris County in the district as well,” he said.

As far as staffing, HISD Chief Talent Officer Jeremy Grant Skinner said one school will have “at least 95%” of its teaching positions filled. He added that most of the schools have additional certified staff, and teachers performing other duties outside of their classrooms.

“And our principals in some cases will assign those other certified staff to serve students in classes where there’s a vacancy,” Skinner said. “And we’ll also utilize longer term substitutes, prioritizing our long-term substitutes who actually hold certification to work as a dedicated substitute at the beginning of the school year in those cases where we anticipate a potential vacancy.”

Skinner said they will continue hiring during the process and the district is taking a “longer term approach to staffing our classes with excellent teachers, and our efforts will not stop when school begins on August 22.”

Also during the presser, Candace Castillo with student support services said that schools are not encouraging students to share food or drinks in order to reduce the risk of monkeypox.

“We want them to, as much as possible, be able to wash or sanitize their hands,” she said. “Our campuses are going to continue having hand sanitizer stations, so they’re going to have access to that.”

She said families can also provide any type of protection they feel their students may need.

Classes in HISD start Aug. 22.

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