Texas Education Agency promotes school safety week

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) today renewed their annual partnership for the 2016 Texas Safe Schools Week, Oct. 16 – 22. TEA and TxSSC share a mutual goal of assuring all public schools are places where students, parents, teachers and administrators feel secure during the course of every school day.

“An effective learning environment begins by assuring the safety of every student on every campus,” said Commissioner of Education Mike Morath. “Safe Schools Week is an annual opportunity for school districts to focus on required emergency operation plans, as well as all safety issues specific to their community and region.”

The TEA and the TxSSC have partnered for more than a decade to address school safety concerns for the more than 1,200 public school districts and charters in Texas. Under state law, each school district is required to adopt a multi-hazard emergency operations plan, which helps students, parents, educators, first responders and community members work together to prepare for and respond to any type of hazard that may arise.

Multi-hazard emergency operations plans must provide students and educators the opportunity to respond to emergency situations by participating in emergency drills. Additionally, districts are required to implement and conduct a safety and security audit of its facilities at least once every three years.

“Every day our schools face challenges that have the potential to impede the learning process for our children,” said Kathy Martinez-Prather, director of the Texas School Safety Center. “These challenges can range from human-caused acts of violence or natural disasters to more frequent safety issues that educators confront on a daily basis. Creating and sustaining a culture of school preparedness is paramount to overall student achievement – both academically and socially.”

Commissioner Morath and Martinez-Prather urge all Texas school districts to practice emergency drills, review emergency plans and highlight the importance of safe and secure schools – not only during this week but throughout the year.

Gov. Greg Abbott has also declared Oct. 16-22, 2016, as Safe Schools Week in Texas. In his gubernatorial proclamation, Gov. Abbott noted the importance for schools and communities to work together to assure children are secure from harm and able to thrive in their academic environment.

“As our next generation of leaders, young Texans are our most precious resource and brightest rays of hope for the future,” said Gov. Abbott in his Safe Schools Week proclamation. “It should be our top priority as parents, teachers, community leaders and concerned citizens to guarantee their safety and well-being, especially while they are attending school.”

Texas Safe Schools Week is held annually in conjunction with the national America’s Safe Schools Week. To read the Governor’s Safe School Week proclamation or for more information about Texas Safe Schools Week, visit the Texas Education Agency website at www.tea.texas.gov or the Texas School Safety Center website at http://txssc.txstate.edu/.