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Texas State Senators To Examine School Security

One superintendent in southwest Houston said that his district’s done about as much as they can to tighten security without turning schools into fortresses.

A flyer from the Center for Safe and Secure Schools distributed at a school safety seminar held by the Harris County Department of Education on June 6, 2018.

The Texas Senate’s new committee on school security will hold its first meetings this week, offering more discussion on topics such as arming school staff and changing  school design.

But that’s not what some superintendents and students think should be lawmakers’ top priority.

One superintendent in southwest Houston said that his district’s done about as much as they can to tighten security without turning schools into fortresses.

“I think every school system in Texas has hardened their schools about as much as they can with the resources they have,” said HD Chambers, who leads the Alief Independent School District.

Chambers wants state lawmakers to put prevention at the top of their to-do list, primarily training so teachers can identify behavior issues that could lead to violence.

“We need more professionals to help train and help our teachers feel confident that what they’re seeing and what they’re hearing is truly a concern, versus right now, there’s  lot of erring on the side of caution,” he said.

Another local school leader, incoming Aldine superintendent LaTonya Goffney, told News 88.7 that many school counselors have been pulled into test monitoring — yet another responsibility for them — because of budget issues.

Goffney said that having more professionals equipped to focus on students’ social and emotional needs, such as social workers, would help prevent incidents on campus.

“However, our teachers stand ready. A lot of issues can be addressed by increasing relationships,” Goffney said.

Some Houston students said that more mentors on campus would help maintain safe environments.

“If we focus on the people that’s actually in the school, and the students that are in the school and building a better relationship between the two parties, then maybe we can come together and maybe have a voice of reason,” said Zachary Steward, who will be a senior next year at Yates High School. He also helped moderate a panel on school safety at a recent summit at the Harris County Department of Education.

Steward added that if teachers or other school staff are armed, then students won’t feel safe on campus.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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