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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — In just a couple of weeks, security experts will start showing up unannounced at schools.
The Texas School Safety Center worked all summer to make sure it’s ready to conduct these in-person, random intruder audits at campuses across the state. They’ll begin visiting campuses on Sept. 12.
This step is a direct response to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde.
By design, school districts don’t know much about these random audits. All they know is that they need to make sure all doors are secure and that they’re keeping a close eye on who’s walking in and out of the school.
At Carpenter Hill Elementary in Buda, Principal Ginger Bordeau said they’re ready.
“The piece that helps me is, I just keep telling it’s for the kids’ safety,” Bordeau said.
Gov. Greg Abbott tasked the Texas School Safety Center with this job.
“We’re going to be checking to see if we can gain unsecured unauthorized access to a campus,” Kathy Martinez-Prather, director of the Texas School Safety Center, said. “And while that seems like such a small piece to the puzzle, it’s a very significant piece, because we know that locked doors create time barriers, and time barriers save lives.”
Martinez-Prather said while campuses will be selected at random, they will tell local law enforcement and a district’s superintendent that they will be showing up within the month. The center just simply won’t reveal which campus will be inspected, or what day.
“We are not going to be simulating an intrusion of any kind, we are not going to have individuals dressed as threat actors carrying weapons, trying to forcefully enter a campus, these individuals are going to be trained, plain-clothed, and at any point in time, if they’re confronted by a school personnel will self identify,” Martinez-Prather said.
By the end of this school year, Martinez-Prather said they want to have inspected at least 75% of campuses.
While schools may already be taking safety seriously, Bordeau admits the pressure from the School Safety Center does motivate them to be extra meticulous.
“That just keeps us in check,” Bordeau said. “And we like that.”
Audits will be happening throughout the school year, every month. The agency plans to give a status update on the audit mid-year, and publish its full report at the end of the school year.