Updated: Jul 28
July 26, 2022
Dear Sabinal ISD families,
The summer break is winding down and we have been working diligently to prepare for the first day of school which starts on August 15th.
Because of the devastating tragedy at Robb Elementary, I am certain many of you are anxious
about the start of school. I hope this letter will reassure you that we have and will continue to have school safety and security as a top priority.
Through the years we have developed a comprehensive set of protocols and procedures which provide “layers” of protection for our students and staff. That said, I want to familiarize you with what we have done, what we have planned for this school year and what our future plans will be.
In the interior of our buildings, we have installed solid core doors with a small high strength tempered glass window mounted on steel frames; additionally the hardware installed on the door allows teachers to lock the doors from inside their classrooms. The exterior windows we have installed are double pane high strength tempered glass. Additionally, an “80% shade cloth” blinds were installed which effectively makes it difficult to see into the classroom during daylight hours. It has been a long standing requirement that our teachers keep their classroom doors locked 100% of the school day.
Several years ago, we installed at the elementary a “magnetic lock” door access system coupled with a remote camera to identify individuals prior to admitting them into the building. This allows us to keep all exterior doors locked and restricts entry to one single set of front doors.
This worked so well that we expanded the door access system at the secondary campuses last summer. Changing classes at the secondary schools can be challenging, however we solved the problem by issuing “proximity ID cards” to secondary students (7-12) and staff. While it took time to learn, we are now prepared to keep all exterior doors to the junior high and high school campuses locked through the school day. This year we will restrict all visitors to enter the building to one single set of front doors. Keeping the exterior and interior doors locked improves our ability to keep students and staff safe.
Again, a few years ago we labeled all campuses exterior doors with an alpha-numeric label. You may have noticed this when you visit our schools. We have labeled “E” =elementary; “J” =Junior High; “H” =High School; “C” =Cafeteria, etc. The numeral on each exterior provides a more precise identification of where someone has entered the campus. By labeling the doors in this manner, will assist first responders to the appropriate building and door to enter. We are currently labeling the room number of each classroom on the exterior window of the classroom. Again, this labeling will assist law enforcement, and first responders, to quickly identify the room which needs help. We will have the classrooms labeled by the start of school.
We have upgraded our security cameras both inside the schools as well as the exterior of the buildings. Cameras are placed at each exterior door to monitor who enters and exits any building. Furthermore, we have cameras in each of the hallways. These cameras are monitored by campus administration and can be accessed remotely on smartphones or other authorized technology devices.
“Intruder Alarms” where installed a few years ago and they are located at exterior exits and randomly throughout the school buildings. If you visit our schools, you see the “blue box” which houses a red button; and when the red button is pushed it will send a pre-recorded message to law enforcement. Also strategically placed in all buildings are “Stop the Bleed” kits which can be used on a person who has been stabbed, shot, or has sustained another type of impalement.
We conduct annual employee and secondary student training on how to effectively dress a wound and stop bleeding by applying a tourniquet. Additionally, each building has an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) which can be used on a person who is experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest. All coaches, sponsors and other personnel are trained on how to use the AED as well as providing basic first aid to injured students, staff, or visitor.
New this year will be the deployment of “Raptor,” which is a school security software system enabling us to screen all persons when they enter the school, and once admitted, each visitor must consent to a criminal background check. Furthermore, Raptor provides us an “app” for all employee’s phones which allows them to sound an alarm, which includes a pre-recorded message to law enforcement. This is an amazingly effective safety and security measure which allows any employee who might witness a problem to “sound the alarm.” Additionally, the Raptor app can alert teachers and staff if an emergency is occurring.
Over the summer we hired a former state law enforcement officer to provide security during the school day. We refer to him as our undercover security coordinator, and since he maintains his law enforcement license, he will be armed each day at school. The safety coordinator has conducted an independent audit of every exterior door; every interior door; every classroom window and all other existing security systems. He is also revising our multi-hazard plan, as well as collaborating with administrators and key personnel on how to be prepared for the upcoming school year.
Recently Chief Reyes, Uvalde County EMS and Sabinal VFD conducted a second, independent audit of our facilities. Each of these facility audits provide us a comprehensive examination of our school facilities and allows us to rectify any weaknesses in our safety and security plan.
Additionally, we are contracting with the Texas Safe School Center to conduct a third independent facility audit and an evaluation of our state of preparedness. In September we will host a meeting with all local, county, state and federal law enforcement and other first responders to collaborate on our multi-layered protocols and procedures to make our schools as safe as possible. Sabinal ISD has organized and hosted these first responder meetings for many years, with the exception of the past two years due to COVID.
On June 13th, the Sabinal ISD Board of Trustees met to discuss current and proposed school safety and security protocols for the 2022-2023 school year. The following are some of the newest efforts to be implemented at the start of school or sometime this school year:
Employment of a former state law enforcement officer who will be armed and will also provide us expertise on school safety and security measures. This new employee will work in plain clothes as an “under cover” security. For security reasons, this person will not be publicly identified.
Sabinal PD has been extremely helpful in past situations at our schools, and they are committed to provide daily, random “walk-throughs” of our schools, thus providing our schools a viable means of sustained security.
In the near future, we will be collaborating with parents, spouses of our employees and others who are active officers as well as state and federal agents to volunteer several days each month as a “School Marshal.”
We are in the process of hiring a company to install bullet resistant “hardening” of glass, starting with exterior doors and the glass around the entry doors. This will effectively slow down a shooter, as the glass will crack but will not shatter out thus impeding the intruder from easily entering the school.
We are offering all Sabinal ISD employees an opportunity to obtain their “Licenses to Carry” (TLC) provided by a local licensed firearm instructor. While obtaining the TLC is voluntary, it will allow us to evaluate and consider possible implementation of our own “School Guardian” program. Additionally, we will be posting signage at the campuses warning people that our “School employees might be armed and are willing to protect our students.” For security reasons, these employees will not be publicly identified.
Once school starts; teachers, staff and students will learn how to escape from their classrooms and where to “rally” once they evacuate the building. We now have two exits from each classroom, allowing students and staff the ability to move away from the threat. If the situation is outside of the building, students and staff will shelter-in-place; and if necessary students and staff will evacuate through the window in their classroom if the threat is in close proximity. The principal and teachers will have a pre-arranged locations for them to rally. This allows us to monitor and keep a “head count” of their students.
We have hired a new and experience counselor, Melissa Mann, who will provide counseling for students, and if needed, personnel. She will be trained to evaluate students for: suicide, mental health and other related needs of our students.
Lastly, we ask all parents and citizens in the community to report to law enforcement any suspicious activities and/or knowledge of persons wanting to harm others. We further ask that you monitor your children’s activity on their personal devices, so to identify concerns and possibly stop the harming of others.
While there are other options being considered, I hope you will appreciate our due diligence to provide these comprehensive “layers” of protection for our students and staff.
If you have questions or ideas, please contact me by phone at 830-988-2472 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard W, Grill
Richard W. Grill, Superintendent
Sabinal Independent School District