Positive, New Bill Component: Threat Assessment Teams (Senate Bill 11)
Following the 86th Legislative Session, Gov. Abbott signed SB 11 into law in June 2019. SB 11 went into effect immediately, and it creates threat assessment teams in school districts across Texas. This law was passed with the tragedies of Parkland, FL and Santa Fe, TX in mind. Under the law, each district must establish a threat assessment and safe & supportive school team.
WHAT IS THE TEAM’S RESPONSIBILITY?
The team must develop the safe and supportive school program for the district, and they must be trained by the Texas School Safety Center, based in San Marcos, or a regional education service center.
WHO ARE THE MEMBERS OF THIS TEAM?
They are people from across the district who must have expertise in counseling, behavior management, special education, mental health & substance abuse, classroom instruction, school administration, school safety and security, emergency management and law enforcement.
WHAT WILL THEY DO?
The team has to conduct assessments that report individuals who make threats of violence or exhibit harmful behavior. In executing this task, the team should gather data to determine the level of risk of the student and the appropriate intervention. The team should also create an escalation procedure and refer a student for a mental health assessment, when appropriate.
SHOULD THE TEAM REACH OUT TO ME AS THE PARENT OR GUARDIAN?
Yes, if your student is under 18, the team should contact you and get your written consent before the threat assessment is conducted.
HOW WILL THE THREAT ASSESSMENT TEAM IMPACT MY STUDENT IF THEY’RE SIMPLY CAUGHT WITH ALCOHOL OR DRUGS?
If a student uses or possesses drugs or alcohol on campus, the threat assessment team shouldn’t necessarily step in. Instead, the district should apply its existing procedures related to substance use prevention.
IS THE TEAM REQUIRED TO KEEP DATA ON THE THREAT ASSESSMENTS IT CONDUCTS?
Yes, the team must keep the total number of assessments they make, and they must break them down by the race of the student, their gender, their special education status, whether they are in foster care, and whether they are homeless.
Texas Education Code Section 37.115
ADVOCATE FOR STUDENTS OF COLOR & STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES IN TEXAS
As threat assessment teams begin their work in districts across the state, we urge parents and community advocates to track the data in your independent school district to ensure that Black and Latinx students and students with disabilities are not disproportionately represented in the threat assessments that are conducted.
Positive, New Bill: Senate Bill 1707
AFFIRMING REQUIREMENTS ABOUT POLICE IN SCHOOLS
Following the 86th Legislative Session, Gov. Abbott signed SB 1707 into law in June 2019. It went into effect immediately, and it clarifies that school police officers should not be involved in the routine discipline of young people on their school campuses. Under this law, school police officers should avoid contact with students that doesn’t involve law enforcement activities.
Under the law, school districts need to write out the roles and responsibilities of school police officers. They should be placed in student codes of conduct, district improvement plans, and the memorandum of understanding between the school district and the local law enforcement agency.
Texas Education Code Section 37.081
HOW CAN FAMILIES USE THIS NEW LAW?
Young people and parents should use this new law to ensure that school police officers do not overstep the duties that are spelled out for School Resource Officers on school campuses. Young people and parents can also use the language in their student codes of conduct and district improvement plans to push their districts to rein in the interactions of school police officers with students. Young people and parents can push their school boards to adopt transparent school policing practices, as school boards typically set these policies for school districts.
SHARE YOUR STORY
As part of our efforts to dismantle Texas' school-to-prison pipeline, we strive to shed light on the lack of accountability around school policing across the state. If you are a young person, or a parent of a young person, who has faced mistreatment from a school police officer, please contact Andrew Hairston: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 512-473-2800.
(!) An Alert for Parents & Students: Senate Bill 2432
Following the 86th Legislative Session, Gov. Abbott signed SB 2432 into law in June 2019. It goes into effect September 1, 2019, and it increases the ability of school districts to place young people into disciplinary alternative education programs (DAEPs). As a part of our efforts to dismantle the School-to-Prison pipeline in Texas, Texas Appleseed strives to shed light on the terrible, present conditions of alternative education across the state.