With the legislative session underway in Austin, there are proposed legislation looking to protect schools across the state.
Shawn Thierry, a state representative from Houston, is leading the fight to stop school violence before it happens. She is also the mother of a 6-year-old elementary school student.
”After the Santa Fe shooting, it got to me. I just decided I could not, would not sit passively by knowing that our children are still in the same amount of danger they were before, nothing has been done,” Thierry told News 10.
Her proposed legislation — House Bill 797 — would add metal detectors to every school in Texas. A fight that will cost a lot of money. But, Thierry says, the state can afford it.
”Our comptroller just revealed $119 billion budget in Texas, which is $9 billion more than we had in the last. We also have $15 billion untapped in our rainy-day fund. We clearly can fund this,” she said.
Across Central Texas, several school districts use metal detectors in some capacity. Across Killeen ISD, the district said handheld metal detectors are used randomly. Temple ISD has a permanent metal detector at Wheatley Alternative School with wands used on a random basis. G.L. Wiley Opportunity Center is the only campus in Waco ISD that currently uses metal detectors.
”If it is good enough for us at airports, if we can have metal detectors at our courthouses to protect our judges and everyone going into the building and we have them at the state capitol, how can we leave our most vulnerable population without that same protection?” Thierry said.
She says there is also another important component to addressing school safety: mental health.
In House Bill 204, mental health would be part of the curriculum for public school students. House Bill 198 would expand mental health services and mental health education to students at school-based health centers.
”We’ve got to have increased mental health education. We need more school counselors. We need resource officers. We need all access of providing greater mental health access in our schools,” she said.
Thierry hopes her bills are part of a package that gets Governor Greg Abbott’s signature during this current legislative session.
To view the full proposed documents, click on the links available on this page.