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Responding to local concerns after Uvalde shooting
In response to last week’s school shooting at Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School, Pearsall ISD Superintendent Dr. Nobert Rodriguez is reassuring parents and staff this week of the district’s efforts to keep them safe through strict safety protocols.
“On behalf of the School Board of Trustees and the Pearsall Independent School District, I would like to send out my deepest condolences to the parents and families of the Uvalde CISD school district for the tragic loss of their 19 children and two school teachers,” the superintendent said this week. “In light of this tragic event, I would like to keep our community informed about the safety procedures that are already in place at Pearsall ISD.”
Dr. Rodriguez noted that the administration and trustees recognized needs to prioritize safety in 2014 with the approval of the creation of a school police department.
“Each campus has an assigned police officer,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “These officers work endlessly to monitor each campus during school hours as well as providing support for all school-related activities after school hours.”
The superintendent said that all PISD police officers are certified in Active Shooter training under TCOLE #2195; are also CRASE instructors, teaching staff members how to respond to an active shooter event; participate in continuous training to also include Stop-the-Bleed and tactical first aid.
Rodriguez added that the department also has a district-owned drug canine, whose primary role is to search for illegal weapons and drugs.
“Pearsall ISD also has security guards who begin their shift in the early evening and continue to patrol the campuses throughout the night checking all entrances and monitoring the traffic around the district,” Dr. Rodriguez added. “A security guard works during the day to monitor the high traffic in and out at the high school campus. This role is critical, this person keeps a close eye as to who enters and leaves the campus and also monitors the student parking lot.
“Employees are expected to be vigilant in watching for weaknesses in safety such as ensuring there are no students outside buildings without supervision and ensuring doors are always kept closed and locked.”
The school district also added security entrances at each campus in 2014 and the superintendent said it is an expectation that every door be locked around the perimeter and inside each classroom.
Monthly safety committee meetings, quarterly safety meetings with community stakeholders and first responders and safety audits to make adjustments and improvements, as needed, are also among the safety protocols the district implements as well as the standard response protocol from the I Love U Guys Foundation which includes Lockdown, Lockout, Hold, Secure, and Shelter in Place.
The district is a member of both the Frio County and City of Pearsall Emergency management committees and offers mental health training and awareness training sessions to assist school employees in identifying adults and students who may require specialized support services. PISD also has long-standing relationships with Camino Real, South Texas Rural Health Services, and Family Services Association for additional student resources.
Administrators and staff participated in adult and teen mental health awareness training sessions prior to COVID-19 and will participate in a refresher course June 6 and 7. Additional staff training sessions with Camino Real are planned for August as well as for high school students.
Ultimately, the superintendent said that open lines of communication between local governments and the school district and community are vital in keeping the school district informed regarding incidents that may affect the school.
“For internal use, PISD has a security app designed to provide an immediate safety alert in case an emergency occurs,” the superintedent said. “Through the app, the exact location of the disturbance or incident is identified by the school official making the report.
“For communication with the community, PISD and each campus has a Facebook page to share news on a regular basis and also uses Apptegy, a district and campus-wide alert system that district and campus administration can use to immediately communicate with faculty, staff, and families through email, text message, and a phone system.”