Office of the Governor Rick Perry

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School Safety

Summary of Achievement

Governor Perry recognizes that children cannot learn and teachers cannot teach if their attention is distracted by concerns about their personal safety.  That is why he has worked diligently to make our schools safer for teachers, administrators, parents and students.  Among other measures, the governor has supported and signed legislation requiring school districts to prohibit bullying and to provide background checks on all school employees, and also establishing a School Safety Center at Texas State University-San Marcos.
Thanks to Governor Perry’s dedication, Texas schools have more tools and resources available than ever before to ensure that campuses are safe. 

The Challenge

In addition to several high-profile school shootings, recent Bureau of Justice Statistics show that 43 percent of U.S. students fear harassment in the bathroom at school, 282,000 students a month are physically attacked in secondary schools, one out of five teens knows someone who brings a gun to school and every seven minutes a child is bullied.  In Texas, three out of four 16-to-24-year-olds report that they have experienced or know someone who has experienced teen dating violence.  In addition, parents are concerned about potential terrorist and environmental threats, as well as internet predators.  The Texas Attorney General reports that one in seven children comes into contact with an internet predator each year.  Parents also want to know that school personnel who have contact with their children are safe.  Given the grave concerns about improving campus safety, Governor Perry has made it his mission to improve school safety throughout Texas.

Action / Initiative

Gov. Perry is dedicated to ensuring Texas schools are safe:

  • In 1999, then-Lieutenant Governor Perry supported and signed legislation that expels students from school for assaulting school personnel. 
  • In 2001, Governor Perry signed legislation requiring school districts to prohibit bullying in their codes of conduct and establishing a School Safety Center at Texas State University–San Marcos. The Texas School Safety Center serves as an ongoing interdisciplinary resource, providing training and technical assistance statewide to reduce youth violence and promote safety.  The center also serves as a clearinghouse for best practices and research related to school violence prevention.
  • In 2006, after high-profile school shootings, Governor Perry informed districts that he would provide any necessary state law enforcement resources to assist local law enforcement with ensuring school safety.
  • In 2007, Governor Perry supported and signed legislation mandating that all school districts in Texas adopt and implement a dating violence policy and requiring the Texas Education Agency to develop and make available to school districts a list of resources concerning internet safety.  He also signed legislation requiring all school district employees to undergo criminal background checks.  Finally, he signed legislation requiring that each school district campus identify and mitigate safety concerns in 2008 by undertaking a safety audit and providing audit results to the School Safety Center, which will then prepare a statewide school safety report card.

The Outcome

Thanks to Governor Perry’s leadership, the School Safety Center has become an invaluable resource to districts, parents and students.  The School Safety Center has developed Texas Unified School Safety Standards.  The Standards provide a set of criteria to help school districts develop a quality emergency management program based on the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and align school district emergency operations with those of other governmental, private and volunteer entities. The standards have been designed with enough flexibility to meet the unique needs and varied requirements of all schools in the state.  The center also conducts hundreds of workshops, conferences and training sessions each year on school safety topics, including dating violence, bullying, gang awareness, school violence and drug and alcohol abuse.  Recently, the center revised its Campus Safety and Security Audit Toolkit, which contains step-by-step instructions and recommendations for school administrators in conducting a safety and security audit, as well as a comprehensive audit checklist.  As a result of the school safety legislation the governor signed, throughout 2008, districts will be conducting campus-by-campus school safety and security audits and will report results to their school boards and the School Safety Center.  If deficiencies are identified, the School Safety Center will work with each campus or district to remedy problems and improve campus safety.