SB 11

Status: Signed by governor
Author: Sen. Larry Taylor 
Sponsor: Rep. Greg Bonnen
Summary: 

General provisions

Adds mental health and suicide prevention to the health curriculum. Requires that districts incorporate digital citizenship into the curriculum, including information on the criminal consequences of cyberbullying.

Requires that building standards for facilities provide a secure and safe environment.

Requires a school district that receives a bomb threat or terroristic threat relating to a campus or other facility at which students are present to provide notification of the threat as soon as possible to parents of each student at the campus/facility. The commissioner must adopt rules for evacuating and securing school property during an emergency and rules specifying how many mandatory school drills must be conducted each semester, which may not exceed eight.

Subjects charter schools to the school safety requirements under the bill.

Revises the duties of a local school health advisory council to include recommendations in areas such as mental health issues, suicide, risky behavior and substance abuse.

Requires a district peace officer or school resource officer who provides law enforcement at a district of any size to successfully complete an education and training program before or within 120 days of the officer's commission by or placement in the district.

Requires the Texas School Safety Center, not later than January 1, 2020, to develop a list of best practices for ensuring the safety of public school students receiving instruction in portable buildings and to provide information regarding the list of best practices to school districts using portable buildings for student instruction.

School safety allotment

Creates an annual school safety allotment to be used to improve school safety and security, including securing school facilities, providing security for the district, and school safety and security training and planning. This includes active shooter and emergency response training, prevention and treatment programs for childhood trauma, management of emergencies and threats through mental health support and threat reporting systems, and programs for suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. 

Districts can use funding from the school safety allotment only for the specified purposes of the allotment.

Multihazard emergency operations plan

Requires that the multihazard emergency operations plan address prevention and specifies that emergency response training must include substitute teachers. Requires that the plan ensure employees have classroom access to a phone or other electronic communication device allowing for immediate contact with emergency responders, that district communications technology and infrastructure must be adequate to allow for communication during an emergency.

The plan must include a chain of command for final decision-making during a disaster or emergency situation; provisions for addressing safety, specifically addressing portable buildings and students/employees with disabilities; notification to parents in crisis situations and specifically noting the person responsible for the notification; psychological safety for affected parties after a disaster or emergency situation; a policy for providing a substitute teacher access to campus buildings and necessary materials to fulfill the duties of a district employee during an emergency or mandatory emergency drill; and the name of each member of the district's school safety and security committee and the date of each committee meeting during the preceding year.

The Texas School Safety Center will review and verify multihazard emergency operations plans at regular intervals. A school board that does not submit its plan or correct identified deficiencies must hold a public hearing notifying the public of that fact and other related information.

Authorizes the commissioner to appoint a conservator for a school district that fails to submit a plan and authorizes the conservator to order the district to adopt, implement, and submit a plan. Authorizes the commissioner to appoint a board of managers to oversee the operations of a district that fails to comply with such an order within the time frame imposed by the commissioner.

School district safety and security committee

Requires that the school district safety and security committee, include, as possible, representatives of local emergency management and law enforcement; members of the school board; district personnel including the superintendent and at least one teacher; a representative of a partnering open-enrollment charter school, if applicable; and parents of enrolled students. The committee’s duties include consulting with local law enforcement on how to increase law enforcement presence near district campuses, and providing recommendations to the school board/administrators regarding updating the district multihazard emergency operations plan in accordance with identified best practices.

Threat assessment teams

Requires each school board to establish a threat assessment and safe and supportive school team to serve at each district campus. Superintendents must ensure that the members appointed to each team have expertise in specified areas and the superintendent can establish a committee, or assign to an existing district committee, the duty to oversee the operations of district teams.

Each team must conduct a threat assessment that includes assessing and reporting individuals who make threats of violence or exhibit harmful, threatening, or violent behavior. The team must gather and analyze data to determine the level of risk and appropriate intervention, including referring a student for mental health assessment or implementing an escalation procedure. It must also provide guidance to students and school employees on recognizing harmful, threatening, or violent behavior that may pose a threat to the community, school, or individual.

On a determination that a student or other individual poses a serious risk of violence to self or others, the team must immediately report that determination to the superintendent. The superintendent must immediately attempt to inform the parent if the individual is a student. The bill expressly does not prevent an employee of a school from acting immediately to prevent an imminent threat or respond to an emergency. A team that identifies a student at risk of suicide must act in accordance with the district's suicide prevention program and must also conduct a threat assessment if the at‑risk student also makes a threat of violence to others. A team that identifies a student using or possessing tobacco, drugs, or alcohol must act in accordance with district policies related to substance use prevention and intervention.

Teams must report to TEA the occupation of each team member; the number and type of threats reported to the team; and the outcome of each assessment made by the team, including any disciplinary action, law enforcement response or referral for services. The report must also include disaggregated data of the total number of, in connection with an assessment or reported threat, Class C misdemeanor citations, arrests, uses of restraint, changes in school placement, referrals to services, suspensions and expulsions, unexcused absences of 15 or more days, and referrals for truancy. It must also provide the number and percentage of school personnel trained in certain areas include suicide prevention, mental health, the safe and supportive school program, and other safety-related programs.

Requires the Texas School Safety Center to assist school districts in establishing and training threat assessment teams, including suggested procedures for referral for evaluation or treatment; referral for special education services; and anonymous reporting by a student or school personnel of dangerous, violent, or unlawful activity that occurs or is threatened.

Trauma-informed practices

Requires each district to adopt and implement a policy requiring the integration of trauma-informed practices in each school environment and to include the policy in the district improvement plan. The policy must address counseling options for students, and methods for increasing staff and parent awareness of trauma-informed care and implementation of trauma‑informed practices. Educators must be trained at intervals necessary to keep them informed of developments in the field. Districts must maintain records that include the name of each staff member who participated in the training and to report certain information relating to training completion annually to TEA. A district can partner with a community mental health organization to provide training if the district does not have sufficient resources to provide the training.

Requires teacher continuing education to include instruction on how grief and trauma affect student learning and behavior and how certain strategies support the academic success of students affected by grief and trauma.

School safety training course

Requires the commissioner of education to provide a waiver allowing for fewer minutes of operation and instructional time than required by law for a district that that requires each to attend an approved school safety training course. The waiver must allow sufficient time for educators to attend the course and may not result in an inadequate number of minutes of instructional time for students or reduce the number of minutes by more than 420 minutes. A school safety training course must apply to the Texas School Safety Center to be approved for purposes of the waiver.

State and regional inventories of mental health resources

Requires TEA, in conjunction with other appropriate entities, to develop a rubric for use by regional service centers in identifying resources for student mental health available to districts in the region. The rubric must provide for resources relating to training and technical assistance on practices that support student mental health, school-based and community programs providing prevention or intervention services, Communities in Schools programs, school-based mental health providers, and public and private funding sources.

Each service center must use the rubric to identify resources in the region that create supportive school environments, identify students who may need support before issues arise, provide interventions, connect students and families to specialized services, and assist schools in aligned resources necessary to address student mental health. Service centers must submit a report on such resources to TEA.

TEA must also develop a list of statewide resources available to districts, as well as statewide plan for student mental health to be posted on the TEA website.

Texas Mental Health Care Consortium

Includes provisions from other legislation establishing the Texas Mental Health Care Consortium to leverage the expertise of health-related institutions of higher education to address mental health challenges and improve the mental health care system in Texas. Though not specifically related to schools, the bill does provide that the consortium must establish a network of comprehensive child psychiatry access centers to provide consulting and training to better care for children and youth with behavioral health needs. The consortium must establish or expand telemedicine or telehealth programs for identifying and assessing behavioral health needs and providing access to mental health care services. The consortium must implement this requirement with a focus on the behavioral health needs of at-risk children and adolescents.

(Click here to return to the 2019 session bill summary page.)