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Texas to start randomly inspecting public schools for weak entry points this fall

 Smith Elementary School, part of the Del Valle Independent School District, in Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
Smith Elementary School, part of the Del Valle Independent School District, in Austin.

Campuses won’t be warned ahead of time about the “random intruder detection audits.”

Republican state lawmakers continue to focus on school safety more than changes to gun laws after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde – and starting this fall at Texas’ public schools, the state will start implementing what it’s calling “random intruder detection audits.”

A Texas State University group called the Texas School Safety Center has been tasked by Gov. Greg Abbott to go to schools around the state and check for weak access points to enter the building, said Kate McGee, a higher education reporter for the Texas Tribune.

“The center is really emphasizing that these are not going to be people simulating some kind of active threat, but they are going to just try and get in,” McGee said. “And they’re going to train them to be able to do this so it doesn’t create alarm or hysteria.

» RELATED: Texas police chiefs make recommendations to state lawmakers on school safety, gun regulations

McGee said that local law enforcement and district officials will know if the audits are coming in a particular week or day but that individual school campuses will receive no warning.

“That has a lot of education advocates, teacher groups worried because, you know, a given student or classroom or teacher might see someone trying to get into a back door and not know who that person is and might negatively react,” McGee said.

“You know, we have schools around the state that have school marshals – people who can carry weapons on campus. And the question is, could this be an issue if no one on the campus is aware that this kind of audit might be happening and might cause some kind of actual accident?”

Though research has not shown that hardening schools has reduced gun violence, McGee said, intruder attempts are a strategy that some schools have previously taken on an individual basis. Now that the governor has asked the school safety center to do them more broadly across the state, additional staff will be trained this summer to begin audits in September, with a goal of hitting 100% of districts and about 75% of campuses by the end of 2022-2023 school year.

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