Texas governor will unveil school safety plan Wednesday

Gov. Greg Abbott visiting Santa Fe High School on May 29 to speak with students, parents, teachers and staff, and present first responders with a Governor’s commendation for their actions during the shooting that claimed 10 lives there earlier this month. (Photo: Twitter)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will unveil a school safety plan this week, compiled from three round table discussions hosted earlier this month in the wake of a shooting at Santa Fe High School.

Abbott will reveal the proposals at two separate events Wednesday, in Dallas and San Marcos, according to a report from the Texas Tribune. Some will be implemented before the new school year, while others will rely upon legislative action, according to the report.

“I am seeking the best solutions to make our schools more secure and to keep our communities safe,” Abbott said in a May 21 news release. “Working together, we can ensure a safe learning environment for students and safer communities for all Texans.”

The three round tables, held last week at the state capitol, remained closed to media. Abbott told CNN, however, the discussion focused on preventative measures, including student engagement, implementing a student reporting system and mental health evaluations.

Dallas County Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa, who attended the meeting, told NPR the group focused on “deterrence, mitigation, intervention and prevention.” He said participants considered a reward system for students who report others. “The students are the ones who give us the tips more often than not,” he said.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, however, thinks the problem lies in flawed school design. “There aren’t enough people to put a guard at every entrance and exit. You would be talking twenty-five-, thirty-, forty thousand people,” he said during a May 18 press conference. “But if we can protect a large office building or a courthouse or any major facility, maybe we need to look at limiting the entrance and the exits into our schools so that we can have law enforcement looking at the people who come in one or two entrances.”

Patrick said the solution might be costly, but its necessary. “We need to do the work and do the money to protect the children the best we can,” he said. “In other words, we may need to harden our schools and make them safer.”

Fewer entrances may have prevented 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, Jr. from concealing his father’s Remington 870 shotgun and .38-caliber revolver under a long coat on a hot day unnoticed, Patrick alleged. Instead, the teen murdered eight students and two teachers during a 30-minute shooting spree before surrendering to police in a hallway.

Police charged Pagourtzis with capital murder and aggravated assault against a public servant. He’s in solitary confinement on suicide watch at the Galveston County Jail. Few other details surrounding why Pagourtzis snapped have emerged in the weeks since, though his family and other students have alleged bullying may have played a role. The police affidavit even indicates Pagourtzis spared students he liked “so they could tell his story.”

The school district denied the bullying claims in a Facebook statement and requested “mindful” dissemination of information out of respect for the bereaving families.

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