Key Takeaways from SBLE Summit
This fall, the Fund brought together representatives from TASB, the Texas Education Agency, our legal counsel, and our members for school-based law enforcement (SBLE) Summit 2023. Each presenter and panelist brought unique perspective and expertise to topics that are top-of-mind for districts across Texas.
Here are the key takeaways from our agenda. If you have questions or you need support with any of these topics, we encourage you to reach out to us.
SBLE is a multi-faceted topic, so the Summit included a broad range of speakers and panelists whose presentations are summarized below.
TEA's Role in House Bill 3
Chief John Scott leads TEA’s new school safety and security unit. His team is responsible for building the capacity of ESCs, local education agencies, and superintendents to offer safe places to learn and work.
- Along with services such as school safety grants and mental health support, TEA offers boots-on-the ground vulnerability assessments, behavioral threat assessments, tabletop exercises, drills, and intruder detection audits.
- TEA’s Intruder detection audit findings will reflect state requirements. Local flags will reflect best practices and local policies.
- Districts must present intruder detection audit findings to the Board of Trustees and during safety committee meetings.
Two panel discussions featuring experienced private attorneys explored how School Liability and Workers' Compensation coverage apply to school-based law enforcement personnel.
- Course and scope is a key factor in determining whether coverage applies. In other words, was the officer fulfilling the responsibilities defined in district policy and/or the memorandum of understanding?
- Peace officers’ “on-call” status and secondary employment add complexity to course and scope determinations.
- Common liability claims involve excessive force, improper search, and improper seizure.
- Plaintiffs are also trying to hold districts liable for third-party actions.
HR, Policy, and Legal Issues
TASB Education Counsel and AED of Policy and Legal Services Joy Baskin highlighted member responsibilities around student behavioral threat assessments, including records confidentiality, retention, and access. Joy was joined by Director of HR Services Amy Campbell, who shared salary data for SBLE personnel, and Assistant Director of Policy Service Amy Kadlecek, who covered TASB policies that apply to SBLE personnel.
- The median pay for a district chief of police is $96,343, and a police officer’s median pay is $59,664. Those figures don’t include benefits, equipment, overtime, or additional leave.
- TASB HR Services recommends districts base guardians’ and marshals’ compensation on the primary job duties and treat SBLE duties as supplemental.
- The primary TASB policies that address SBLE are CKE, CKA, CKEB, CKEC, and CKED. TASB Policy Service is updating them to reflect new legislation.
- Law enforcement unit records created and maintained by a law enforcement unit for a law enforcement purpose are NOT covered by FERPA.
School Districts and Counties: Partners in School Security
Chief Deputy Alan Trevino of the Burnet County Sheriff's Office outlined House Bill 3's requirement that sheriffs in counties with populations under 350,000 hold semiannual school safety meetings. The requirement applies to 237 of Texas' 254 counties. Chief Trevino also explained how local law enforcement supports districts during emergencies, including school shootings.
- State law defines who must attend sheriff-conducted school safety meetings and which topics must be on the agenda.
- Meeting attendance and topics will be made public through the Texas School Safety Center.
- Local law enforcement agencies have the authority, responsibility, and resources to respond to school violence. Examples include trained officers, incident command trailers, emergency communications capabilities, and chain of command planning.
House Bill 3 Implementation Strategies from the Field
House Bill 3 increased each school district’s responsibilities concerning safety and security. Our afternoon panel featured districts that have adopted plans to meet their responsibilities. Panelists shared factors they considered when evaluating SBLE plans, challenges they experienced, and lessons they wanted to share with other districts.
- Relationships with local law enforcement, legislators, regulatory agencies, and the community are important. For example, some panelists received funding for security initiatives from charitable organizations and local businesses.
- Make sure school guardian trainers are certified by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Some vendors may not meet these requirements.
- Don’t neglect other House Bill 3 requirements such as mental health first aid training for certain employees.
SBLE Summit 2023 marked the culmination of the Fund’s first-ever residency program. We spent the better part of this year on a deep, focused dive into SBLE strategies and their associated risks and budget implications.
The summit marked the close our pilot residency program, but we are committed to serving as a go-to risk management resource for our members. The Fund will continue collaborating with subject matter experts, TEA and the law enforcement community to help Fund Members navigate the complex SBLE landscape.
Risk Solutions Staff
The TASB risk solutions team includes risk solutions consultants and communications professionals who deliver training, consultations, articles, and resources that help Fund members control losses and their associated costs.