A new state audit is giving a better idea of how safe Texas schools are. Shortly after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered “intruder detection audits” to test weaknesses at school campuses.
The Texas School Safety Center, which runs the program, says of the 7,200 schools they visited inspectors did not gain access to more than 95% of them.
Auditors did gain access to a little over 4% percent of campuses, most of the time they used a back door and in nearly half of those campuses, no one stopped them once they entered the school.
Before the audits began, the Director of the Texas School Safety Center said focusing on doors is a simple practice that school districts can do to make sure they are safe and secure.
“And while that seems like such a small piece to the puzzle, it’s a very significant piece, because we know that locked doors create time barriers, and time barriers save lives,” said Kathy Martinez-Prather.
The random inspections are a direct response to the school shooting in Uvalde. According to investigators, the shooter entered the school through a back door.
School security expert Craig Miller says back door access is a weak spot he sees time and time again.
“You can go by most any school athletic department and you can see a dumbbell laying by the door, and generally that dumbbell is there so they can prop the door open. Or in the fall, when football season starts and the band and gotta come in and out so they leave the doors to the band hall open,” said Miller. “I’m not casting blame on people, but we just have to do a better job if we’re really serious about trying to keep a school safe from people getting inside it.
The intruder audit does not give details on specific school districts or campuses, the report says across the state about 10% of the schools where problems were found still must fix those problems.
Over the last year, several districts have shared with school boards how they fared.
The Fort Worth Independent School District said more than a third of its campuses were audited, with nine schools needing corrective action.