Making Sense of Safety and Security Committees
State law requires schools to form safety and security committees that help develop and implement emergency plans for campuses and other facilities. The law describes who will serve on the committee, how often members meet, and what they are responsible for accomplishing.
What is a safety and security committee?
School safety and security committees are not new to the Lone Star State. Texas Education Code Chapter 37.109 has long required each district to establish a safety and security committee based on Texas School Safety Center guidelines. SB 11 amended the Texas Education Code to clarify committee membership and responsibilities.
Who should be on your committee?
Districts should incorporate a whole-community approach to forming safety and security committees. This approach encourages school leaders to include police, fire, EMS, local health districts, emergency management officials, community leaders, and volunteer organizations on the committee. It also ensures members understand community needs and capabilities, supports resource integration, promotes a stronger social infrastructure, and forges relationships that facilitate preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery.
Under SB 11, districts are required to include certain individuals on the committee to the extent practicable. To widen perspectives, districts should consider representatives from both internal and external stakeholder groups to serve on the safety and security committee:
- Board member*
- Board president/designee*
- Counselors/social workers
- Custodial employees
- Deputy/assistant superintendent/designee
- District superintendent/designee*
- Facilities/support services
- Finance staff
- Food services staff
- Human resources staff
- Health/mental health specialists
- Student services/special programs
- Technology staff
- Transportation staff
- Classroom teachers*
- School-based law enforcement*
- External stakeholders
- Emergency management professionals*
- EMS professionals
- Local law enforcement*
- Fire service professionals
- Health department professionals
- Two parents or guardians of children enrolled in the district*
Districts can make their committee’s size more manageable by identifying members who represent more than one stakeholder group. For example, a district could recruit a teacher who is also a parent of a child enrolled in the district to serve on the committee.
*Required committee assignments
What are the committee’s responsibilities?
The safety and security committee’s primary responsibility is to develop and implement an all-hazards emergency operations plan (EOP) that meets the district’s needs and follows state laws.
The team also provides guidance and support. The district can meet its statutory duties and expand the committee’s responsibilities to meet its needs by:
- Completing and submitting the District Audit Report
- Assisting the district in completing and submitting the District Audit Report to the Texas School Safety Center.
- Supporting safety and security assessments of each campus, reviewing and revising EOPs, and ensuring that safety and security funds are used appropriately.
- Providing comprehensive review and revision of the district EOP every three years or as needed.
- Incorporating legislative changes and lessons learned, as well as revising the plan’s structure and function based on changes that affect the community and local or state planning guidance and updates.
- Reviewing practices and consulting with others
- Reviewing district training activities to ensure that students, faculty, and staff receive appropriate training on the EOP and understand their roles and responsibilities.
- Consulting with local law enforcement to enhance safety and security throughout the district.
- Reviewing EOPs annually or as warranted using after-action reports from incidents, drills, and exercises.
- Collecting and compiling data
- Helping collect data and information on the district’s safety and security climate to be included in the District Audit Report.
- Reviewing and compiling the audit findings into one document to be presented to the district’s board of trustees.
- Assisting with response to Texas School Safety Center requests for EOP or audit follow-up, as appropriate.
What about committee meetings?
The safety and security committee should meet at least three times a year (fall, spring, and summer). However, meeting frequency may increase based on necessity. Committee meetings are subject to the Open Meetings Act, including relevant exceptions to the Act. Your legal counsel will be able to advise you.
Your committee should follow standard meeting protocol, including development and sharing of the agenda prior to the meeting; notice of meeting date, time, and location; and meeting expectations. An agenda item should be included to allow for discussion or presentation of new items.
Although most committee deliberations likely will occur under a closed meeting exception, it is a good idea for Safety committee meeting actions to be documented, and records maintained according to the district’s records management policy. Detailed minutes should be kept. Minutes should include, date, time, location, participants, review of minutes from prior meetings, current agenda, and actions such as assignment of duties. The district should also develop a communication plan for reporting committee activities to district stakeholders.
Download this TASB Legal Services memo for more information about school safety and security committees. You can also visit the Texas School Safety Center website for resources on security-related topics.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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.
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