As the summer draws to a close and the 2022-23 school is rapidly approaching, the memory of the Robb Elementary murders has led schools across Texas to take additional measures to increase security.
In the Grand Prairie Independent School District, police and school officials attended several events to receive training designed to better equip them with the necessary tools to more effectively prevent or stop security threats.
With the safety of their students, parents, and staff in mind, the school district held a safety summit on August 1 and hosted a Civilian Response to Active Shooter Event (CRASE) on Thursday evening.
“The 4hr course certifies Local and State [law enforcement] as instructors,” stated the website for Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) at the Texas State University, which puts on the CRASE courses.
The site went on to explain, “The certification allows those officers to go out into their communities and deliver strategies for surviving Active Shooter Events. ALERRT uses the Avoid, Deny, Defend concept. The presentations officers provide are provided at no cost to the participants.”
The safety summit on Monday went over the district’s efforts to protect people. District officials claimed they were taking steps to keep everyone safe, including automatic locking doors, a visitor management system, and random metal detector checks, CBS reported.
Grand Prairie Police Chief Daniel Scesney, speaking at the event, suggested that the number one thing parents could do to help protect students is to monitor children’s social media.
“What we need is for parents to get involved and see what their kids are doing and alert the authorities if they see anything unusual,” he said.
Grand Prairie ISD informed people that it has created an easy way to communicate any concerns about students with the STOPit app, which allows for direct anonymous reporting to the district.
The company encourages potential users to, “Join the millions of students, employees, and citizens who trust STOPit Safety & Wellness Solutions to help protect their physical, social and emotional well-being.”
For its part, the Dallas Independent School District said on August 2 that it will implement a “Comprehensive Safety Plan.”
“While safety and security have always been a priority, we know that it is very important to our community right now more than ever, and so we wanted to provide an update to our entire community,” said Dallas ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde. “Safety and security are our No.1 goal.”
The plan reportedly includes facility enhancements and protocols, mental well-being programs for students, training and safety awareness for all staff, resources for reporting potential issues, and outreach to parents to support school safety at home, according to the district.
Still, as safety concerns plague Texas schools, Dallas ISD draws concern over its academics. A four-year longitudinal study found that only 82.8% of Dallas ISD high school students graduated on time in 2020, well below the roughly 90% statewide rate and the 91.3% rate for Grand Prairie ISD students.
Dallas ISD’s STAAR scores for the 2020-2021 school year were below the statewide average across the board. For all grades and all subjects, only 60% of DISD students received scores of “approaches grade level,” compared to 69% in the state.