By Karen Daniels
In response to the Connecticut school shooting, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot urged districts across Texas to review their safety plans, asking districts that had not submitted their completed school safety audits to do so. The AG’s office then released a list of 77 school districts whom they claimed had not met, completed or submitted the School Safety Security Audit. On that list was Stafford MSD.
Superintendent Dr. Lance Hindt immediately contacted the AG’s office and learned that the Texas School Safety Center was responsible for providing the list. According to them, the Attorney General’s office was premature in their release of this list. During the call, the TSSC rep could not indicate which districts were notified or how they were notified of their non-compliant status. Dr. Hindt was asked to submit a request for notification information. He did so immediately, but has not gotten a response.
In 2005, Senate Bill 11 was passed requiring school districts to adopt and implement a multi-hazard emergency operations plan that included employee training and mandatory drills to prepare students in the event of an emergency. Texas State Representative Ron Reynolds had this to say about the erroneous information. “I’m a strong supporter of SB 11 because our children’s safety should be a top priority for all of our school districts. I reached out to SMSD Superintendent Dr. Lance Hindt and received written documentation that he had timely submitted a school safety audit. It is my understanding that SMSD was on the non-compliance list because of a small technicality in response to a question. I have total confidence in Dr. Hindt and his team at SMSD…Moreover, I am very disappointed that the Attorney General’s office released a report without doing its due diligence and falsely casting SMSD in a negative light. I’m looking into having the AG’s office retract it’s statement”
This audit costs roughly $10,000 and is an unfunded mandate. With so many cuts in educations, staff positions that normally take care of these matters at SMSD were cut, however, Dr. Hindt has stated the SMSD was never informed of any discrepancies from the AG’s office. In a letter to the community, Dr. Hindt stressed the dangers of further cuts in funding. “I am in total agreement that all school districts must have a comprehensive emergency plan…this (audit) requirement is a perfect example of the many unfunded mandates the State places on its public schools and school districts. We cannot continue down this education funding-cut path without jeopardizing the safety, security, and instructional well being of our students and staff.”