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Head of Texas School Safety Center talks about upcoming intruder audits

Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the intruder inspections after the mass shooting in Uvalde.

SAN MARCOS, Texas — The KVUE Defenders have been looking into school safety following the mass shooting in Uvalde, where 19 students and two teachers lost their lives in May.

Inspectors are preparing to launch random intruder audits at Texas school campuses. Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas School Safety Center to conduct these surprise inspections starting in September.  

The directive came with a $7 million dollar budget and the Defenders wanted to know how that money is being spent.

Investigative Reporter Jenni Lee sat down with Dr. Kathy Martinez-Prather, the executive director of the Texas School Safety Center.

She said that money will be used to hire five or six full-time employees to run the intruder audit program.

Martinez-Prather also said inspectors will be contracted from the 20 Education Service Centers across the state.

She said she knows there's a lot of concern over these inspections. She wants parents, students and teachers to know they will do everything they can to prevent chaos.

"We're not going to be simulating an intrusion. It's also important to note that the intruder detection audit is already a part of the comprehensive safety and security audit procedures that we've developed for schools. So school districts are already doing this themselves. So this is something they're very familiar with," she said.

RELATED: After Uvalde shooting, Texas leaders will spend more than $100 million on school safety, mental health

"These will also be audits that we have communication with the superintendent and the local primary law enforcement entity. And so what essentially that means is we're not going to tell you the date, the time or the campus that we're coming out to inspect. But we're going to communicate to you that we will be out this month at your district conducting these inspections. And what we will also be asking superintendents is that they notify, if they have them, their school marshals and their guardians. And the purpose of all of this communication is to alleviate any cause for alarm while our inspectors are out in the field. And I think that that's really important here, because ultimately, what we're trying to do is help school districts identify weak points so they can remedy those," Dr. Martinez-Prather said.

The inspectors will be in civilian clothing and will self-identify if approached. Martinez-Prather said these inspections will look at four areas. 

"We are going to be assessing to see whether or not we can gain access through any of the exterior doors. So, assessing whether or not any exterior doors are locked. Are we able to gain unsecured access? Second, we're going to be evaluating their visitor check-in, check-out policies. Third, we are going to be assessing whether or not they are conducting weekly door sweeps," she said. 

"So we're going to be asking for verification and proof of those logs and making sure that they're doing those. And finally, if a district has a policy or an administrative directive in place to lock classroom doors, we will be checking, doing a random sample of classroom doors to ensure if they are following their policy. Because right now, school districts are not required to lock classroom doors," Dr. Martinez-Prather said.

The goal is to reach 100% of the districts and 75% of the campuses by May. These intruder detection audits include kindergarten through 12th grade and charter schools.

Hear more from Dr. Martinez-Prather on KVUE News next week.

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