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Texas Education Agency’s Proposed Security Changes Include Panic Alarm

A meeting for public comment on the agency’s new plan will be held in early December
Photo: Jazmine Thomas | Shutterstock

In the aftermath of the tragic school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Governor Abbott ordered the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to ensure a standard of security at Texas school campuses. In early November, the education agency released the proposed changes to safety standards that would include locks on doors, windows reinforced with entry-resistant films and a panic alert system.

By August, many school districts were already working on safety plans ahead of the beginning of the school year. In Plano, the district created a new leadership role exclusively focused on school safety and security while Richardson emphasized the improvement of physical security and equipment with a double buzz entry system and remote camera monitors. 

But the TEA’s new rules would create a baseline for school safety across the state including best practices like weekly checks on doors and locks and monitoring of unlocked doors as well as physical upgrades, one of which is the requirement of a panic alarm system.

The TEA plan proposes a button that school staff could press, on their phones or physically at the school, that would trigger an alert automatically call 911 with information about the location where the trigger occurred while informing every staff member and administrator who should inform law enforcement immediately. Additionally, schools have electronic locking systems on the doors, this alarm would automatically lock them.

Another safety measure concerns campuses being surrounded by a 6 feet tall fence or wall with anti-scaling design features or an additional 2 feet to prevent climbing while at the same time having emergency egress systems included. 

While the education agency’s proposal hasn’t been approved yet, the plan has set August 2023 as a deadline for procuring a contractor and a final timeline for the work to be completed. On December 12, a public meeting will be held for comments on the proposed changes.