The Texas Legislature Approves Comprehensive Safety Bill

The Texas Legislature has passed a bill aimed at ensuring public school safety. House Bill 3 requires school boards to determine the appropriate number of armed security officers for each district campus and ensure that at least one armed security officer is present during regular school hours at each district campus.

Armed security officers must be a school district peace officer, a school resource officer, or commissioned peace officer employed as security personnel. A good cause exception is available for districts unable to comply with provision. Districts claiming the exception will still have to provide a school marshal or a school district employee or a person with whom the district contracts who has completed school safety training provided by a qualified handgun instructor certified in school safety under Section 411.1901, Government Code. This individual will also carry a handgun on school premises.

Armed security officers may not perform routine law enforcement duties of a peace officer, such as making arrests, unless the duty is performed in response to an emergency that poses a threat of death or serious bodily injury to a student, school district employee, or other individual at the district campus.

Under the bill, each district employee who regularly interacts with students enrolled at the district to complete an evidence-based mental health training program designed to provide instruction to participants regarding the recognition and support of children and youth who experience a mental health or substance use issue that may pose a threat to school safety. The state will assist with funding for this training.

The Texas Education Agency will also be required to develop model standards for providing notice regarding violent activity that has occurred or is being investigated at a school district campus or other district facility or at a district-sponsored activity. The standards will include notification through text messaging and e-mail; provide an option for real-time notification; and protect student privacy.

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