In our previous post, we explored aspects of changes from the 86th Texas Legislative session related to socio-emotional health. We discussed most of those in the last post. Now let’s look at one additional aspect of it.
Senate Bill 11 (SB 11), the flagship bill, expands the use of threat assessment teams and requires the implementation of a safe and supportive schools program. Both threat assessment teams and a safe and supportive schools program span across the emergency preparedness and mental health areas of school safety. In fact, SB 11 addresses them in the same section of the bill that talks about emergency drills and terroristic threat notifications. We include them in our review of mental health-related changes because of how they support mental health interventions and action plans.
The bill’s implementing language is quite specific. It creates a new sub-section 37.115 to the Texas Education Code (TEC) that spells out various duties. It charges –
- The Texas Education Agency (TEA) to work with the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) to create rules for implementing a safe and supportive schools program.
- The local board of trustees to create policies and procedures for implementing threat assessment and safe and supportive schools teams at each campus.
- The superintendent to create the teams with the specified mix of skill sets and to provide for their oversight.
- The teams with carrying out a range of duties related to threat assessment, student and employee guidance, and implementing the district’s all-hazards emergency operations plan.
- The teams with reporting various data to the TEA
The TEA will need to clarify various aspects of this new section. As is typical with new legislation, it leaves much to interpretation.
Threat assessment teams in education originated from research published in 2002 by the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education. Many school districts have already embraced some form of them. The new law will likely standardize how they are implemented. The TxSSC has launched a series of training sessions to be conducted across the State of Texas over the next several months.
Some school districts are already using techniques from the safe and supportive schools program. Note that this is not the same thing as Safe and Sound Schools. The former is a body of knowledge and techniques that is organized and offered by the U.S. Department of Education. The latter is a private non-profit organization that grew out of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Both are excellent resources.
The Legislature passed several new laws that impact school safety and impose new responsibilities upon public school districts, charter schools, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas School Safety Center. We have created a free guide that summarizes the bills and how they may impact you. Click here for a free download.