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Are Texas schools safer a year after the Uvalde shooting?

Are Texas schools safer a year after the Uvalde shooting?
Are Texas schools safer a year after the Uvalde shooting? 05:15

UVALDE ( — In the past year since 19 students and two teachers were killed by a gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, frustrations have mounted and pleas to lawmakers have grown.

"The status quo is unacceptable. This crime is unacceptable," Texas Governor Greg Abbott said just days after the massacre.

To what extent Texas schools have improved school safety is debatable, but the state has taken action in the past year to harden school campuses, increase active shooter training for law enforcement, and provide more access to mental health services to students.

School door security heightened with statewide surprise intruder audits 

As investigators dissected what happened on that fateful day last May, state officials pointed to the failure in securing campuses.

In hearings at the State Capitol last June, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw noted how the Uvalde gunman entered Robb Elementary through an unlocked door.

"He came through the door with no problem," McCraw testified.

In response, last summer Gov. Abbott ordered all Texas schools to conduct an audit on all exterior campus doors. The governor then tasked the Texas School Safety Center to conduct surprise intruder audits on campuses during the school year across the state. By the end of the school year, more than 6,000 campuses had been checked.

"What we are trying to do is prepare schools to minimize as much loss of life as possible and, in the best case scenario, prevent it completely," said Kathy Martinez-Prather, the director of the Texas School Safety Center, in an interview with CBS News Texas last fall.

Are Texas schools safer a year after the Uvalde shooting?
CBS News Texas

Thousands of additional officers underwent active shooter training

The state's Uvalde investigation also revealed an "abject failure" in how law enforcement responded to the school shooting.

In a tearful plea to state lawmakers last June, 17-year-old Jazmin Cazares—whose younger sister Jacklyn was shot to death inside Robb Elementary—said, "The people that were supposed to keep her safe at school didn't. They failed."

In the past year, more than 16,000 Texas officers have undergone active shooter response training through the Texas State University ALERRT program—the most in the program's history. Many of the officers who underwent the training this year are school resource officers

While Texas has allocated more funding for active shooter training, Cazares told the committee of lawmakers last summer they could honor the victims by adopting gun background checks and "red flag laws." Texas lawmakers have not done either.

Are Texas schools safer a year after the Uvalde shooting?
CBS News Texas

More than 100 school districts signed up for state's telehealth program

While Gov. Abbott dismissed calls for stronger gun laws after the Uvalde shooting, he pointed to the need for more mental health services.

In the days after the shooting, he said, "There are array of healthcare issues that relate to those who commit gun crimes in general. Those need to be addressed."

Last year, a CBS News Texas I-Team investigation found most Texas schools offered little-to-no direct access to mental health services for students.

The state's telehealth program, known as TCHATT, was supposed to ensure at least virtual mental health access for all students, but a 2022 I-Team investigation found the program was not being used at the time by more than 800 school districts across the state.

In the past year, 181 additional school districts have signed up for the TCHATT program. Today, students at more than half of all Texas school districts (598) have virtual access to a licensed school psychologist.

"What we got to do is get on the front side of this problem with the psychological side of students," said Craig Miller, a school security consultant and former police chief for the Dallas Independent School District.

Are Texas schools safer a year after the Uvalde shooting?
CBS News Texas

Miller said while improvements have been made in the past year, he believes Texas still has a long way to go to keep its schools safe.

"We can say we are going to do better—lock more doors, do more checks—but we have to change the culture of the school," Miller said. "Until you change the culture and put safety as the priority, you are not going to see the things happen that need to happen."

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