A Collaborative Response

Following the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, a number of entities across Texas are working together to ensure safer schools for our children, as they should.

Our children are our most precious resource. Their ability to focus on learning is vital to ensuring a brighter future for all. No child, parent or teacher should be worried about safety on our school campuses – period.

The Argyle Independent School District, as one example in my precinct, this year approved an AISD law enforcement officer at each of their five campuses for the 2022-23 school year, up from three AISD officers during the last school year.

In 2014, Argyle school board members also approved an armed staff program at each of their campuses. Individuals, whose identities are undisclosed, go through rigorous training before they are allowed to carry concealed handguns on campus. Secured locked entry vestibules are located on each AISD campus. Only authorized or credentialed individuals can gain access to the campuses.

I fully support all of these actions and suggest it should be the practice in all school districts across Denton County.

Gov. Abbott has taken steps to create a new Chief of School Safety and Security, who will serve as a recognized expert on school security and public safety issues. This individual will coordinate multidisciplinary teams, resources for schools and the Legislature as well as implement the necessary systems to ensure safety. Reporting to the Texas Education Agency Commissioner, the Chief of School Safety and Security will also have a direct line to the Office of the Governor for increased communication and collaboration among state agencies to provide a safe environment for each and every student across Texas.

We are confident that our local law enforcement can handle any situation. Our police, fire and emergency service personnel train often and together to plan for any and all types of events.

Gov. Abbott also has requested our legislative leaders to convene special legislative committees to develop recommendations on school safety, mental health, police training, firearm safety and more. He also asked the Texas School Safety Center to conduct comprehensive school safety reviews at each campus.

Gov. Abbott also initiated the state’s comprehensive plan to assist and support members of the community of Uvalde, including co-locating state agency representatives to the Family Assistance Center for on-hand assistance in finding benefits.

In Denton County, our Office of Emergency Management and Department of Public Health, among others, have already begun meeting with first responders, area emergency management personnel and other divisions from our communities, county and the state to discuss how we can maximize efforts at a Family Reunification and Assistance Center locally. Soon, we will be including other providers such as local non-profits into the conversations so that all needs can be met in the event of an emergency.

This type of advance planning will ensure Denton County providers will be able to address the needs of anyone who may come to a Family Reunification and Assistance Center in search of support mentally, spiritually, financially and legally and to ensure they are treated with respect and dignity.

As we learned with Uvalde and other similar tragic incidents, the importance of communication, collaboration and creating secure, safe campuses is imperative.

Implementing these practices in Denton County is a proactive step in protecting our schools. One life lost at a school campus or in any emergency situation is one life too many.

Contact Commissioner Dianne Edmondson by email at Dianne.Edmondson@dentoncounty.gov or phone her at 972-434-3960. You can also stop by her office in the Southwest Courthouse, 6200 Canyon Falls Drive, Suite 900, in Flower Mound.

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