A student at school recently experienced some family trauma. Tony has already missed several classes this year, and is becoming socially withdrawn. He even threatened to seriously injure a classmate after an argument. How do we get Tony some help and keep the situation from escalating?

With school shootings and other potential threats to school safety on the rise, the 2019 legislature considered many bills to provide guidance on how school personnel and first responders can react in emergency situations. Some of the legislation that passed focuses on preventing situations by providing means for students in crisis to be identified and provided with help and support.

A new law requires your district to develop “threat assessment and safe and supportive teams” to support each campus. The idea is that, rather than waiting until a student like Tony commits an act of violence, students and staff at a campus have a way to report their concerns about him proactively. The team can assess the extent to which Tony might pose a threat to safety, and can work on finding resources to address any mental health issues.

SB 11, the bill that requires threat assessment teams, goes into detail on the composition of the teams and their responsibilities (see our bill summary here). The Texas School Safety Center offers training to help district officials begin the process of implementing the law. Check out this story to see what the threat assessment model looks like in an early adopter, Weatherford ISD.

After the mass shootings in El Paso and Midland/Odessa, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday, Sept. 5, issued eight executive orders designed to improve law enforcement’s response to reports of suspicious activity about potential shooters. One instructs the Department of Public Safety to work with TEA on ways to better inform schools, students, staff, and families about the importance of suspicious activity reports and how to initiate that process.