From the desk of Dr. Kirk Lewis

Updates from the Superintendent

A Question of School Safety


School safety rose to the top of the Texas legislative agenda in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Connecticut. That tragedy represents any community’s worst nightmare. Several bills have been filed in Austin to address additional safety and security measures. Pasadena ISD has voluntarily implemented many safety measures over the years. Most everyone knows we have a 32-member certified police force with officers stationed at every high school every day. Other members of the team patrol our elementary, middle and intermediate campuses regularly. These officers are highly trained, well-equipped and coordinate their emergency plans very well with the outstanding local law enforcement agencies in Pasadena, South Houston, Houston and Harris County.

To keep our kids and staff safe, the District has policies in place for hosting visitors on campus. The district has been creating security vestibules on our campuses; these require visitors to first enter the office. Our campuses use a visitor check-in system, security cameras, and metal detectors when necessary to monitor access to the school. Schools also conduct regular emergency drills, including lock-down drills.

There are bills pending that would allow districts to arm teachers either on a voluntary basis or by assigning specific individuals on campus to carry a weapon. In all honesty, I struggle with that idea and don’t believe it is the best solution for added security. I believe I would rather have additional trained officers to provide a more rapid response to any emergency. That being said, I’d love to hear from parents and community members. Please feel free to share your opinions on the subject.

While the solutions to this very serious issue may vary, the concern for student safety is one we all share. Let me hear from you.

Author: Dr. Kirk Lewis

Dr. Kirk Lewis serves as Superintendent of the Pasadena Independent School District, a position he has held since April, 2006. Over the past 26 years Dr. Lewis has served as the Deputy Superintendent for Administration, Public Relations and Governmental Affairs; Executive Director for Communications and Community Relations; and Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent.

3 thoughts on “A Question of School Safety

  1. I agree with you, having teachers with guns on campuses is not the way to make our schools and our children safer. Allow them to continue to teach our children while increasing police and communication would be the best way to secure our schools!

  2. I would encourage the district to look in to arming some teachers at each campus. The stereotype of a standard teacher is a thing of the past. I come from a law enforcement background. As such have a different perspective than the typical educator. Likewise many other teachers come with a variety of experience, including law enforcement and military.

    As much respect as I have for the police officers, they cannot be everywhere. Active threats can enter our schools at any time and unfortunately the police are not always present to react in a swift manner. Those of us on site are present and can react.

    I would be more than happy to be part of this discussion to work out a plan.

    • Bill,
      I appreciate the insight you bring to the table. It is a difficult issue and an even more difficult choice. Law enforcement agencies are tentative about arming teachers with the fear that in the heat of an incident, it would be difficult to quickly identify whether the person with a weapon is the “good guy” or the “bad guy.” The other issues are just as difficult. We must consider: The danger of a errant shot penetrating a wall and harming those hiding in the classroom. The risk of leaving the students for whom the teacher is responsible in the classroom while the teacher goes after the possible shooter. The possibility of a stolen weapon or, that in a routine incident on campus, an angry student might wrestle a holstered weapon away from a teacher. All of these possible scenarios give me pause. Insurance companies are currently assessing the increased liability exposure and the potential increase in liability premiums. None of the issues are insurmountable, I know. My approach right now is leaning toward allowing our teachers to be teachers as must as possible and hiring additional well-trained police officers to beef up our coverage and improve our response time. The administration is currently exploring every option for building upon the already impressive list of security measures we have in place. I hope to take some recommendations to the board this spring. Thanks for your comments.

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