AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security met in Austin Tuesday to find out what it's going to take to make schools safer in the Lone Star State.
"There's nothing more important than protecting from harm than our children," Texas DPS Dir. Steve McCraw told the committee.
Texas District 15 Sen. John Whitmire pointed out a case at Houston ISD where a teacher had her life threatened twice by a second grader!
"It's not just the high school or junior high, it's early," Whitmire said.
The senators heard from a variety of speakers and points of view, including Alert officer training, which experts say altered the outcome with the Santa Fe shooter.
"No one else died after they engaged him— and that's a Texas thing," McCraw declared.
Because of the response time to a school shooting, authorities also discussed the proposal of having armed school personnel.
"We can't fool ourselves into believing that law enforcement is the only appropriate response to a person who shows up with a gun Hell-bent on murdering people," Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner insisted.
Ever since the Columbine School Shooting in Colorado back in 1999, Texas has had an organization dedicated to school safety called the Texas School Safety Center, which helps train school resource officers.
"In the research we've done in interviewing officers all across the state, they recognize that they're ill-equipped and not trained to enter a school," Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University Director Kathy Martinez-Prather announced. "Walking into a school environment is very different than street policing."
Officials also say getting mental health services involved early with high risk individuals is key.
“It's very critical that they learn how to develop these relationships with these students [...] learn how to work with students that have mental health issues,” Martinez-Prather added. "Be part of that process of identifying those kids that are exhibiting early warning signs and being a part of helping them get those appropriate interventions."
The center is currently holding a state conference in Corpus Christi under the theme "Partnering today for a safer tomorrow" and covering all kinds of safety issues.
"Everything from bullying to dating violence to drug awareness to digital safety," Martinez-Prather shared.
It's fair to say the senators got an earful of safety ideas, but finding real solutions that work and get positive results may be easier said than done.