Unannounced school intruder audits to begin in Texas

Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 3:46 PM CDT
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DALLAS, TX (KGNS) - Unannounced school intruder audits began this week across Texas. It’s the latest step in boosting school security in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting.

The Texas School Safety Center says its team will conduct an intruder audit on at least 75 percent of all Texas schools by the end of the school year.

Securing doors has long been a focus of school safety but after what happened in Uvalde and hearing how the gunman walked through an unlocked door, that focus has intensified.

Kathy Martinez-Prather, the director of the Texas School Safety Center says, “It is a huge, huge piece in creating time barriers. And we know time barriers save lives.”

This summer, Texas schools were ordered to check every exterior door at every campus.

During the school year, schools are required to weekly checks.

Many districts say they plan to do them daily or even more.

Mesquite ISD Superintendent Angel Rivera says they have decided on four times a day.

“And so our high schools are doing it twice before lunch and twice after lunch. Our elementaries are doing the same thing”, said Rivera.

But state officials say they want to leave nothing to chance.

So, to ensure schools are indeed securing exterior doors, starting Monday schools will be put to the test.

“That’s where the intruder detections take place. We are going and assessing access control measures to make sure what we’ve asked them to do this summer has been accomplished”, said Martinez-Prather.

Kathy Martinez-Prather’s team at Texas State University is San Marcos is in charge of conducting unannounced intruder audits at Texas schools.

The audits are fairly simple; trained inspectors who will be unarmed and in plain clothes will be going around the state to schools trying to get inside.

In most cases by simply seeing if a door in propped open or left unlocked.

“We will not be simulating an intrusion and that’s important to know. We are not going to be having individuals that are posing as threat actors trying to forcibly and aggressively enter a campus. That is not what’s going to be happening”, said Martinez-Prather.

Districts and local law enforcement will be notified the month of the inspections, but Martinez-Prather says the day and campus will be unannounced.

The idea is for schools to be ready every single day.

“What we’re trying to do is prepare schools to minimize as much loss of life as possible and, in the best-case scenario, prevent it completely”, said Martinez-Prather.

If there are any issues discovered at a school, the school district’s safety committee is required to address it immediately and the school board must address it during a public meeting.

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