Dallas ISD is launching an initiative to bolster student and employee safety following its filing for a good cause exception to a state law requiring an armed peace officer to be stationed at every public school campus.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Dallas ISD started the school year short around 167 officers. Claiming that the district did not have enough money in its $2.5 billion budget to hire the requisite number of officers and that the potential hiring pool was limited, the school board voted in August to get an exemption from the state.
The district is now poised to launch its new “School Safety, Monitoring and Resources Department.”
“Our mission is to support and foster learning by ensuring that all schools and district facilities are equipped with tools and technology systems to monitor and provide a safe environment for students, staff, and the community,” reads the department’s mission statement.
Marlon Brooks, a 30-year veteran employee of Dallas ISD, will lead the department. Management of security measures like surveillance cameras, metal detectors, keycard access systems, intercom communication, shatterproof window films, and visitor identification systems will fall under the authority of the new department.
New technologies will also be deployed under the supervision of the department.
“There will be an app that teachers and school administrators can use to lock down a building in case of a threat. For example, if a teacher sees something suspicious or threatening in the school parking lot, they can send out an alert through the app,” said David Bates, Dallas ISD chief of operations, according to a district news release.
The district will also be launching 3D maps of Dallas ISD campuses to enhance coordination with Dallas ISD police during crises.
School safety has been an issue at Dallas ISD, which saw two gun-related incidents occur during the 2022-2023 school year. As previously reported by The Dallas Express, a Dallas ISD student was shot in the campus parking lot between Thomas Jefferson High School and Walnut Hill International Leadership Academy in March. Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde blamed the event on the prevalence of violent crime in Dallas.
Additionally, earlier in the school year, a student managed to get a gun onto campus at John Carpenter Elementary School. The firearm was discharged. Luckily, no injuries were reported.
Dallas ISD Police Chief John Lawton also noted in the news release that the district was trying to secure more armed officers to keep students and staff safe.
“The school district has initiated a hiring and marketing campaign that will encourage security professionals to choose to have a career at Dallas ISD,” he said. “Additional armed security personnel are already in the process of being assigned to elementary campuses and other locations in need of additional security supports.”