Government
3:37 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Dozens Of Texas Schools Not Following Law For School Safety Plans

Credit David Chong for KERA News

Attorney General Greg Abbott's office has released  a  list of 78 Texas school districts that have not filed a school safety plan or an updated audit of the plan as required by law.

The list includes North Central Texas school districts in Crandall, Italy, Kennedale, Milford and Melissa. 

State law  requires each district to develop an emergency operations plan, audit it every three years and report the results of the audit to the Texas School Safety Center based in San Marcos.  Districts must   practice emergency procedures with  students and staff. 

As KERA reported Friday, state lawmakers established the  Safety Center and school emergency plan requirements in 1999 after the Columbine school shootings in Colorado.  Friday's shootings in Connecticut have again focused attention on precautions being taken to protect students.

Abbott told reporters Monday he's sent a letter to the non-compliant districts demanding they immediately take steps to meet state requirements. 

Meanwhile, State Sen. Royce West of Dallas says it’s time for Texas lawmakers and others to sit down with the National Rifle Association and talk about limiting the availability of assault weapons.

West, a Democrat, says the mass murder of schoolchildren in Connecticut has reignited the issue, and he thinks there’s growing support for new limitations on owning assault weapons.

“I think that the coalition that has been established across the country -- women, progressives, moderates – has got to begin looking at this issue and decide whether in the 21st century we really need to reign in the possession of these weapons and make a determination of whether or not an individual’s second amendment rights are being violated by us having an assault weapons ban,” West says.

He opposes the sale of assault weapons to the public but says the strong gun lobby in Texas would make it tougher to pass weapon restrictions in Austin than in Washington.

Congress allowed a 10-year ban on the civilian use of certain semiautomatic firearms, known as "assault weapons," to expire in September 2004.

West also supports greater state funding for mental health programs that could prevent mentally ill individuals from acquiring and using guns.