Abbott School Safety Plan Would Arm Teachers, Expand Mental Health

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has released his school safety recommendations following the Santa Fe High School shooting that left eight students and two teachers dead.

The 40-point, $120 million plan is the result of three roundtable discussions last week where the governor heard from law enforcement, lawmakers and victims of the shooting.

“Their hearts ache.  Their minds are troubled.  But candidly, their souls are resilient,” Abbott said Wednesday.

Much of the 40-page report focuses on increased law enforcement on campus, arming teachers as school marshals and expanding mental health resources.

“As one Santa Fe student said at one of the roundtables, she said 'Arming teachers and not knowing who is armed, that is what we need.'  Her sentiment was shared by many students and parents,” the governor added.

“Trained security personnel can make all the difference,” he said.  “My plan increases the number of school marshals by training more school marshals this summer at no cost to schools.”

Abbott also suggests schools develop an active shooter alarm separate from their regular fire alarm.

“When the fire alarms went off in Santa Fe, it compelled teachers and students to react the way they were trained, and that is to exit the classroom, go into the hallway and try to exit the school,” he said.  “But soon as they went into the hallway, they encountered gunfire from the shooter, putting themselves in danger.”

The governor also left open the possibility of a special session to implement parts of his plan, including a law to take away guns from anyone posing a threat to themselves or others.

“Such removal could only be allowed after full due process is provided, and only for a specified limited time,” said Abbott.

Kathy Martinez-Prather is director of the Texas School Safety Center.  She called Abbott's recommendations a good first step.

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