Legislative committees hold hearings in response to Uvalde school shooting
Texas Legislature TEA | Commissioner | SBOE School Safety
Date Posted: 6/23/2022 | Author: Mark Wiggins
Texas legislative committees met earlier this week in Austin in response to the massacre of 19 children and two teachers on May 24 at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. Two more House committees are meeting today, June 23, 2022, taking invited testimony from a number of witnesses, including a representative of ATPE.
The legislature’s response to the Uvalde school shooting has largely followed the same outline as the response to the murders of eight students and two teachers in 2018 at Santa Fe High School, after which legislative committees held public hearings at the Texas Capitol.
The Texas House Investigative Committee on the Robb Elementary Shooting met behind closed doors on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo testified in executive session Tuesday, the same day the leader of the state police force blamed him for the bungled law enforcement response.
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw testified Tuesday before the Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans and laid the full blame at Arredondo’s feet. McCraw alleged that Arredondo was the de facto incident commander and disregarded established active shooter doctrine by failing to immediately engage with the shooter, instead delaying for more than an hour. Contradicting earlier reports, McCraw testified that the door to the classroom in which the shooter had barricaded himself was unlocked the entire time and was in fact incapable of being locked from the inside. According to McCraw, the external door that the shooter entered was also left unlocked.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin defended local officers Tuesday and accused McCraw of lying about the law enforcement response. In a meeting of the Uvalde City Council, McLaughlin accused DPS officials of leaking information to media and covering up the role of DPS troopers on scene.
Tuesday’s Senate hearing lasted nearly 13 hours and focused almost entirely on “school hardening” measures. Education Commissioner Mike Morath told the committee the Texas Education Agency will ensure all 340,000 external school doors in Texas are reviewed as well as each district’s required safety plan.each district’s required safety plan.
The Senate Committee met again Wednesday with a focus on mental health. Much of the testimony revolved around mental health services and juvenile justice programs, while children’s hospital representatives testified that firearms are now the leading cause of pediatric death in America.
The House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety and the House Select Committee on Youth Health & Safety are meeting jointly Thursday, June 23, where ATPE Senior Lobbyist Monty Exter will provide invited testimony. Stay tuned to ATPE's Teach the Vote blog for a recap of the hearing and follow @TeachtheVote on Twitter for real-time updates.
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The Texas Education Commissioner addressed the committee during an interim hearing on Aug. 9, 2022.
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