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On May 24, 19 children and two teachers were killed in the deadliest public school shooting ever at Robb Elementary in Uvalde County.

The shooting was a reminder for schools in Texas and across the U.S. to be ever vigilant in keeping students safe.

“Most school shootings last from two to four minutes,” said Dr. R.L. Richards, MISD superintendent. “That doesn’t give the police time to get there, so there has to be a primary layer to protect and defend our kids.”

In 2017, MISD implemented a Guardians process in which teachers are authorized to carry guns on campus.

“We have 14 Guardians, the Texas legislature’s word for teachers that carry guns on campus,” Richards said. “We don’t wear the guns on the outside of our hip, but we have teachers that are carrying every day.”

Guardians are put through stringent drills in order to qualify each year.

“Mr. David Vela, former military, is our safety administrator,” Richards said. “He hires two ex-military or retired FBI agents to teach us how to clear rooms, to shoot from our knees, to check when coming indoors or through hallways, making sure rooms are cleared.

“We go through Simunition training with police and EMS there. Someone will act like an active shooter, and the rounds that are shot are made of real thick rubber bullets. We wear headgear and full protective gear. It has the feeling and adrenalin rush of going in after an active shooter.

“We do that every summer. This year we trained on weekly door sweeps, checking all the doors inside and out.

“This year all Muleshoe’s outside doors will be locked during class time. The principals will help take care that staff members don’t get lax on that. We will have a weekly sweep of all the outside doors with administrators going around to each outside door each week to make sure everything is locked.”

When teachers or others need to access the buildings, keys will be loaned to them.

“We will communicate to them that they need to take care of the doors,” Richards said.

At the 2022 graduation, students were limited in the number of guests they were allowed.

“We had several people that got upset about graduation, because we didn’t have it open to everyone. Each student was allowed 16 adults,” Richards said. “In the old days, graduation was a community event, but safety has caused us to make it a little tighter. We want parents and family to attend, we want to be friendly and community-oriented. At the same time there’s a balance of safety. When it’s wide open, you can’t control everyone.”

MISD staff and students regularly practice for an intruder event with lockdown drills, or lockout drills.

“We’re trying to lock the intruder out of the building, or lock that person out of the classrooms if there’s an intruder in the building. We have more of those than we do fire drills,” Richards said.
“Each teacher has a drills instruction packet telling them what to do, what happens in an intruder event. Each teacher has a radio, so they can be instructed on where to go and what to do.

“The schools are equipped with Axis control doors, so when someone comes to a school, they have to push a button. The secretary lets them in. No strangers can get in the building.”

MISD actively provides for student counseling during the school day.

“We have a full-time Licensed Professional Counselor at the school,” Richards said. “There are counselors in each building and a district-wide counselor. Kids that have mental issues or concerns can be referred to her. There is also threat assessment committee, trained to gather information and try to determine how big a threat the student is to the other students.”

According to the MISD website: “Our district participates in the StayALERT School Safety Program. This anonymous reporting tool allows users to report instances of bullying, drugs/alcohol, weapons, teacher/student conflict, harassment and other safety concerns 24/7/365. Users may report via call or text to 206.406.6485, email to report@stayalert.info or make an online report and find out more at www.stayalert.info.”

On June 1 and 2, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) under Governor Greg Abbott’s direction released a set of directives to support the safety and security of public schools. 

“We were ahead of the game on that,” Richards said. “We’ve really taken care of all those items that are on there.”

The directives state that all Texas LEAs (Local Education Agencies) must take the following actions prior to the start of the new school year:

  • Conduct a Summer Targeted Partial Safety Audit
  • Conduct an Exterior Door Safety Audit
  • Convene the LEA’s Safety and Security Committee to review:
    • the multi-hazard emergency operations plan (EOP)
    • and, as a component of the EOP, the LEA’s active threat plan
    • For the new school year, access control procedures must include exterior door sweeps (ensuring doors are closed and locked) at every instructional facility at least once each week while instruction is being conducted.
Gail M. Williams

Muleshoe Journal Correspondent

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