Data on threats received at Texas public schools from the 2022-2023 school year have been released, showing an alarming total of over 77,000.
Collected by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), this amounts to one threat received for every minute students were in class.
Although schools are required to have assessment teams on hand to handle these threats, an investigation by CBS News Texas I-Team concluded that many schools did not have the training and expertise needed to perform this task adequately.
For instance, the assessment teams of over 1,400 schools did not have one mental health expert on staff.
Yet state data show that as much as 37% of the threats fielded were those of self-harm, followed by 34% advancing violence toward others.
Moreover, the investigators found over 800 schools did not have a single member who had completed the state’s training course on their assessment teams. Dozens of said schools were located in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington.
Andrew Hairston, education justice director for the nonprofit Texas Appleseed, emphasized that not knowing how to properly assess and respond to a threat could have horrific consequences.
“If you don’t have the proper training in place, it can backfire on young people who are trying in earnest to do what the district is telling them to do and then they end up with disciplinary records themselves,” Hairston told CBS News.
Representatives from Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington ISDs all told CBS News that they have their own threat assessment protocols preceding those developed by the state. While their assessment teams had been trained on these state protocols, they were still working toward completing certification requirements with the state.
While many threats fielded last year were identified as hoaxes, the safety of school campuses across Texas has been a matter of serious concern.
As previously reported in The Dallas Express, lawmakers passed a law requiring every public school in Texas to have an armed security officer on campus in an effort to better secure schools following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde last year.
It came into effect on September 1, yet some districts have struggled to comply. For instance, Dallas ISD started the year off absent 167 armed security guards, as covered in The Dallas Express.