Uvalde-driven school safety bill could put a gun in every school and a panic button in every class | #schoolsaftey

Texas’ latest school safety bill underwent the typical legislative permutations on the way to getting approved by lawmakers.

Before passing House Bill 3, the state Senate removed the legislation’s controversial requirement placing armed security in every school. Senators also reduced from $100 to $10 per student the amount of money each school would get to invest in security.

Within days, that Senate version of HB 3 evolved again. The final, approved bill re-inserted armed security in every school.

Paige Duggins-Clay was shocked.

“Honestly, it devastated me,” said the chief legal analyst for the Texas nonprofit the Intercultural Development Research Association. She cited years of research showing more guns in schools don’t make kids safe.

“I really thought the Legislature listened to good common sense and would keep this really harmful provision out,” Duggins-Clay said. “They did sneak it in. The fact that they did not have this particular provision subjected to public testimony, feedback, research, and that it happened literally days before the session ended, really devastating.”

Duggins-Clay, who has four kids in public schools, is especially worried because she’s Black. Research shows Black and Latino kids, and other students of color, often don’t find police in schools a calming presence.

“When you come from a community that is already overpoliced, where you might have parents or loved ones who have been harmed and brutalized by the police or sent to jail,” said Travis Fife, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, “that is incredibly anxiety producing.”

He said the evidence is voluminous and undisputed.

“Police officers in schools increase dropout rates, it increases the likelihood of future criminal activity and decreases educational and economic opportunities,” he said.

Fife said these are reasons the armed security in every school was removed from the bill. House lawmakers, however, disagreed and put it back.

KERA reached out to some House lawmakers who voted for the final version of the bill but did not hear back by deadline. But at a House Education Committee hearing in February, state Rep. Matt Schaefer said when a dangerous gunman ends up in a school, having gotten past any safety barriers, “time is lives at that point.”

“You have to have some armed individual address that situation,” he said. “If you’re having to drive somebody from five blocks away, it’s a lot better to have someone two doors away.”

He added that “at least one authorized, trained, armed person should be on every campus in the state of Texas.”

Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to sign HB 3 into law.

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