Houston, Texas (KTRK) – With school safety still on the minds of many parents, experts are working to discover how easy it can be for an unauthorized person to enter your child’s school.
Intruder detection audits are underway throughout Texas.
“We’re trying to see if we can get unsecured and unauthorized access to campus because we know that closed doors create a time barrier, and time barriers save lives,” said Cathy Martinez Brother, director of the Texas School Security Center at Texas State University, He said.
Martinez Brother said that after the tragedy in Ovaldi, Governor Greg Abbott commissioned them to conduct random searches of Texas school campuses to see how easy it would be for an unauthorized person to enter. She said the unannounced visits began on September 12, and that hundreds of audits had begun so far.
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She said the “intruder detection” audits were not as alarming as their name might sound.
“We don’t send inspectors to come in and simulate a break-in,” Martinez Brother said. “They’re dressed in plain clothes, not armed, (and) they won’t try to forcefully and violently enter the campus.”
Audits also look at visitor check-in and check-out procedures and ensure that districts perform weekly scans of exterior doors.
So you might be wondering how areas of the Houston area have done these safety checks. Due to safety concerns, we don’t know the details.
Spring ISD said they have conducted three of these reviews, with results in two of them. The district said the cause of each outcome has been addressed.
Other local areas, including HISD, said they are not publishing information about audits at this time.
Martinez-Prather says the random inspections will continue through the end of this school year, and together they will put together a report on the trends they find.
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“I think this is one piece of the bigger puzzle, but it’s fundamental, and it’s fundamental and can have a huge life-saving impact when we think about access control,” Martinez Brother said.
So, what else can we do? She says parents can also help hold districts accountable.
“Parents, we have to educate them.” No, you won’t be able to see the EOPs directly, that’s a security issue, “but you can ask these other questions. Is it reviewed annually? Who reviews that EOP?” Martinez Brother explained.
This is part of a plan to work together toward safer schools in Texas.
“I think we’re now at a point where we know we can’t prevent these situations 100% of the time, but with all of those elements working together comprehensively, we can prevent them from happening in most cases,” Martinez said.
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