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Austin ISD to receive nearly $500K for school safety improvements

The funding is a result of Sen. Cornyn's Safer Communities Act.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin ISD has been awarded $493,666 to improve school safety measures, according to a release from Sen. John Cornyn's office on Thursday.

Sen. Cornyn said this funding comes through the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

Both programs were recently authorized by the senator's Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was signed into law over the summer. The legislation targets specific concerns that have led to mass shootings, including the need for more mental health services and school safety resources.

“No parent should fear for the safety of their student when they drop them off at school, and no student should be afraid when they walk into the classroom,” said Sen. Cornyn. “In the aftermath of the tragedy in Uvalde, I’m grateful that meaningful solutions are starting to be delivered through this funding to prevent violence, provide training to school personnel and students, and apply evidence-based threat assessments in Texas schools.”

KVUE has reached out to Austin ISD for specifics on how the funding will be used. This story will be updated if a statement is received.

According to Sen. Cornyn's Office, the act includes the following:

Support for State Crisis Intervention Orders

  • Provides resources to states to implement crisis intervention court programs, which could include mental health courts, drug courts, Veterans’ Courts, and Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) programs.
    • Every state would receive funding based on an existing formula and have the flexibility to choose whichever crisis intervention programs would work best for them. There are no mandates, incentives, penalties, or set asides.
    • If a state chooses to use any of this funding to implement an extreme risk protection order program, it would be required to meet strict and expansive due process, evidentiary, and standard of proof requirements. 

Investments in Children and Family Mental Health Services

  • Expands the community behavioral health center model nationwide and makes major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs and other support services available in the community, including crisis and trauma intervention.

Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

  • Updates the definition of misdemeanor crime of domestic violence to include those who have or have had a current or recent continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with their victim.
  • Individuals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence against a person with whom they have or have had a current or recent continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature would have their right to purchase and possess firearms automatically restored after five years elapsed from the end of their criminal sentence if they had committed no further crimes of violence.

Funding for School-Based Mental Health and Supportive Services

  • Invests in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including early identification and intervention.

Funding for School Safety Resources

  • Invests in programs to help institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, supports school violence prevention efforts and provides training to school personnel and students.

Clarification of the Definition of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer

  • Cracks down on criminals who illegally evade licensing requirements.

Telehealth Investments

  • Invests in programs that increase access to mental and behavioral health services for youth and families in crisis via telehealth.

Under-21 Enhanced Review Process

  • For buyers under 21 years of age whose background checks are flagged for cause, the bill allows up to seven additional days for the FBI to conduct an enhanced review into the possibly disqualifying juvenile and mental health adjudication records. 

Penalties for Straw Purchasing

  • Cracks down on criminals, cartel members, and terrorists who illegally straw purchase and traffic guns.

Read the full text of the legislation here.


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