Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott wants state officials to conduct random school inspections, following a gunman having recently enter an elementary school and fatally shooting 19 children and two teachers.
Abbott, seeking reelection with gun safety remerged as a major topic, wants the inspections to focus on safety checks and protocols.
There have been conflicting reports about how the gunman, killed in the assault, entered Ross Elementary School, in the city of Uvalde, on May 24, before he started killing. However, the most recent reports appear to be that he entered through an unlocked door, in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.
In a letter Wednesday, Abbott effectively told Texas School Safety Center Director Kathy Martinez-Prather to work with the state education agency to implement the safety checks.
“Your team should begin conducting in-person, unannounced, random intruder detection audits on school districts,” he wrote. “Staff should approach campuses to find weak points and how quickly they can penetrate buildings without being stopped,” he wrote.
Also on Wednesday, Abbott asked state lawmakers to convene special legislative committees to examine what action and supporting legislation can be established to prevent future school shootings. He specifically mentioned focusing on mental health, police training firearms safety and the use of social media.
The governor asked the school safety center to work with the Legislature to come up with a series of recommendations for security system improvements.
“You have my full support to make recommendations for consideration by the Legislature,” Abbott wrote. “This issue will no doubt be at the forefront of the next legislative session.”
There are more than 8,000 school campuses in Texas and 672 million square feet of property to cover.
The state gives an annual per-student funding allotment for school safety, the idea being that districts will purchase new equipment and conduct trainings and other programs around safety and security.
Abbott says he expects each district’s Safety and Security Committee to convene over the summer and review their current procedures as well as assess their procedures for access to the school.