U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, recently introduced the School Violence Prevention and Mitigation Act of 2019, a bill that establishes federal grant programs for public schools to first to identify then mitigate vulnerabilities in their security-related infrastructure.

“In the greatest country on earth, no parent should fear sending their child to school, and no child should fear for their own safety in the classroom,” Williams said in a press release. “The time has come to provide schools with the funds and resources necessary to conduct vulnerability assessments and correct security shortfalls on their campuses. 

“Texas leads the country in conducting safety assessments, and the federal government must take the initiative to provide grants where eligible to ensure that a security weakness is properly addressed.”

Williams and Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Florida, introduced the legislation on July 11, to authorize federal grants for schools to make physical security improvements.

“This legislation is a bipartisan solution to address a daunting trend across the country,” Williams said. “I encourage its immediate consideration in the House of Representatives before American children return to their classrooms this year.”

The bill authorizes $2 billion over 10 years for schools to first identify security risks and then address any shortfalls, according to the release.

All schools will be required to install at least one silent panic alarm for use in a school emergency, according to the release. When it’s activated, it will directly alert the closest law enforcement agency of the emergency.

Tammy Bright, Cleburne ISD assistant superintendent of student services, said the district, with the help of the board of trustees, will endorse legislation. 

“School districts have requested help from government leaders in addressing safety and security, and Congressman Williams is listening,” Bright said. “We appreciate his efforts to assist schools in the security risk assessment process and then providing hard core equipment to help ensure the safety and security of student and staff in the public education setting. The funds will certainly be a welcome assistance to districts in an effort to implement security upgrades.”

Safety and security of students and staff continues to be the No. 1 priority for the district, she said.

“In addition to program implementations — Anonymous Alerts, CRASE and ALICE trainings — the monthly meetings of security stakeholders, which include district and campus leaders and school resource officers, have proven extremely beneficial in this process,” she said. “Cleburne ISD will continue to strive to ensure a safe and orderly environment in which all students can grow and achieve personal success.” 

Last year, the district implemented the Anonymous Alerts system that allows students and parents to anonymously report urgent information to school officials. 

Parents and students can download the free app to their smartphones or tablet, or an incident report can be placed from an internet connected computer. Reports to campus administrative officials can include a screenshot, photo or a video relating to the incident. 

Message topics for submission may include bullying, cyberbullying, safety threats, drug or alcohol abuse, student depression, sexual harassment, suspicions behavior, gang related issues or other “sensitive” topics.

All reports remain anonymous, however those who file a report have the option to reveal their identity if they prefer person-to-person discussion with the campus administrator. 

Anonymous Alerts should only be used for “serious or urgent” matters. Call 911 if the submitter views the situation as life threatening or an emergency.  

CISD administrators and teachers have participated in CRASE training — Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events — a course that provides strategies, guidance and a proven plan for surviving an active shooter event. 

The program is designed and built on the Avoid, Deny and Defend strategy developed by Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training initiative, according to its website. Topics include the history and prevalence of active shooter events, civilian response options, medical issues and considerations for conducting drills.  

Middle and high school students will soon learn ALICE training — Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate — a set of proactive, options-based strategies that increase your chances of survival during a violent intruder or active shooter event. 

Elementary students will soon be taught “age-appropriate” strategies, such as running and knowing where to run; hiding and how to barricade themselves; and fighting as a last resort by throwing items at the intruder.

For information about CRASE, visit alerrt.org/page/CivilianResponse. For information about ALICE, visit alicetraining.com

For more information about other safety and security initiatives CISD has implemented, visit c-isd.com, hover over “District Info” and click on “Safety and Security.”

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