TEXAS, USA — Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said he has the power to place school cafeteria safety officers in all schools across the state, a statement that comes in wake of the May 24 Uvalde school shooting.
In a newsletter from his campaign on June 22, Miller said the idea came as he explored ways for the Texas Department of Agriculture to improve school safety and learned that cafeterias are especially vulnerable.
Miller said the claim about cafeterias comes from Dennis Lewis, co-founder of Edu-Safe. Miller called Edu-Safe a "school safety consulting firm"; Edu-Safe's website describes itself as "the industry leader in school safety staff development programs and training resources."
Now, Miller said he is working with the USDA to direct federal funding toward placing "trained and armed law enforcement officers" in every Texas school cafeteria.
Miller also took a moment in his newsletter to thank Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Texas Senate for holding public hearings on the Uvalde shooting, as he said he believes these hearings will help rebuild trust between Texans and law enforcement. He also scolded Uvalde police for claiming, in his words, "there is no compelling public interest in the facts."
On June 23, Miller confirmed he is moving forward with the idea, releasing the following statement:
“Twenty-three years ago, when this modern-day madness began at Columbine High School in Colorado, the killers targeted the school cafeteria with bombs. When the bombs failed to detonate the murderers opened fire with their guns. School cafeterias remain a large point of vulnerability in any school.
“Today, I directed my staff to begin the process of determining what federal funds can be utilized for a School Cafeteria Safety Program. We must make sure that cafeterias and lunch periods are part of the safety conversation at both the federal and state levels. It is my hope that this program can move forward now, as federal or state legislative action may be over a year away.
“Further, I encourage our legislature to revisit House Bill 1009, which presently allows Texas school districts to appoint marshals to guard school premises. But while most larger Texas high schools have some form of on-campus security, most Texas elementary schools do not. This makes no sense. Especially considering the recent tragedy at Robb Elementary as well as the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary nearly a decade ago. Our elementary school students are our most vulnerable students. We must do everything we can to ensure their safety and security.
“I also plan to work with both Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and U.S. Representative Michael Cloud (TX-27) – the only Texan serving on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee – to develop strategies at both the state and federal levels to ensure we address this challenge in every way possible. Cafeteria and mealtime safety must not be overlooked.
“Our children’s safety should be our only priority as we move forward from these dreadful and tragic circumstances. I welcome anyone who is willing to work with us at the Texas Department of Agriculture to seek solutions to this large and complex problem. We owe it to our kids to get this right.”
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