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Legislative Update from the 88th Regular Session: Safety

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School districts serving K-12 students need to be aware of several safety-related bills passed during the 88th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature.

Summaries of the safety bills impacting human resources are addressed.

Public School Safety Requirements (House Bill (HB) 3)

This bill addresses public school safety in numerous ways, including personnel-related issues of employment of security personnel, mental health first aid training for all staff, active shooter response training and qualifications of security consultants. Provisions described below are effective September 1, 2023.

Mental health first aid training. All employees who regularly interact with students must complete, or have completed, an evidence-based mental health training on the recognition and support of children and youth experiencing a mental health or substance use issue that might pose a threat to school safety. Completion of training is phased in over four years, and a school district must ensure all employees have completed training by the beginning of the 2028-2029 school year.

Security personnel. Boards have the following options to provide security:

  • Employing or contracting with security personnel;
  • Entering into a memorandum of understanding for school resource officers (SRO) provided by a local law enforcement agency or a city or county that employs commissioned peace officers;
  • Contracting with a security services contactor licensed under Texas Occupations Code Chapter 1702 for a commissioned security officer who has completed the Department of Public Service Level II or III training course; and/or
  • Commissioning its own peace officers.

Armed security officer. Each school board must ensure at least one armed security officer — specifically, a commissioned peace officer — is present during regular school hours at each campus. Each board must determine the appropriate number of armed security officers for each district campus.

A school board can claim a good cause exception due to lack of funding or qualified personnel. If the board claims a good cause exception, the board must provide an alternative plan that may include reliance on a school marshal or an employee or contracted individual who has completed the handgun safety course required for handgun license holders and is authorized to carry a firearm by the district (e.g., guardian).

A person who is permitted to carry a firearm but is not a commissioned peace officer performing law enforcement duties as determined by the board may not perform routine law enforcement duties, including making arrests, except during an emergency presenting a risk of death or serious bodily injury to someone at the campus.

Security personnel may be compensated using the district’s school safety allotment. This session the allotment was increased from $9.72 per student to $10 per student and $15,000 per campus.

Active shooter response training. Peace officers and SROs are currently required to complete Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) approved active shooter training. This bill specifies that the training must be completed at least once every four years.

School safety consultant registry. This bill amends TEC § 37.2091 and requires a school district to confirm a person engaged to provide school safety or security consulting services is included in the school safety service personnel registry. Information in the registry includes a person’s background, education, experience, and any complaints or pending litigation.

Leave for Emergency Responders (HB 471)

This bill requires a political subdivision, including a school district, to provide police officers, firefighters, and other EMS personnel paid leave for an injury or illness related to their line of duty. The bill defines a police officer as a full-time, paid employee who holds an officer license under Texas Occupations Code Chapter 1701 who regularly serves in a law enforcement capacity in a political subdivision’s police department.

Police officers, firefighters, and other EMS personnel are entitled to a paid leave of absence (LOA) of up to one year for an illness or injury related to the person’s line of duty. At the end of the LOA, the governing body of the political subdivision may extend the leave of absence at full or reduced pay.

If the person is temporarily disabled and the LOA or any extension has expired, the person may use accumulated sick, vacation, and other accrued benefits before being placed on temporary leave. The person may be assigned to light duty while recovering from a temporary disability. If medically necessary, the light duty may continue for at least one year.

The individual who returns to work after recovery from a temporary disability must be reinstated at the same rank and with the same seniority the person had before going on temporary leave.

Effective June 12, 2023.

Mental Health Leave for Telecommunicators (HB 1486)

This bill extends mental health leave to TCOLE licensed telecommunication officers. The entitlement of mental health leave only applies to those communications officers and police dispatchers who hold a TCOLE license.

Effective September 1, 2023.

Display of Harmful Materials to Minors (HB 4520)

This bill adds conviction or placement on deferred adjudication for the sale, distribution, or display of harmful material (e.g., pornography) to a minor to the list of offenses for which SBEC must revoke an educator’s certification. The county clerk must provide written notice to SBEC of the action and SBEC is required to notify the educator, TEA, and the employing district or open enrollment charter school (OECS) of the reason and basis for revocation. Upon receipt of this notice, SBEC must revoke an educator’s certification. The governing board of the employing district or OECS must prevent the person from having contact with a student by removing the person from the campus or office. If the person is employed under a Chapter 21 contract, the district must, with board action, suspend the employee without pay and terminate the person as soon as practicable.

If the action for which the individual is convicted required the use of a minor to commit the act, the offense is classified as a felony, and the person will forfeit their Teacher Retirement System (TRS) service retirement annuity. 

Effective September 1, 2023.

Notice for Reporting Workplace Violence and Suspicious Activity (HB 915)

This bill adds a new work-site notice posting requirement applicable to all Texas employers. The required notice will include information for reporting workplace violence or suspicious activity to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and include information about the right to make an anonymous report to DPS. The notice must be posted in a conspicuous place, in sufficient locations convenient to all employees, and in English and Spanish, as appropriate. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) in consultation with DPS will adopt rules prescribing the form and content of this notice by March 1, 2024.

Effective September 1, 2023.

Human Trafficking Signs (Senate Bill (SB) 2069)

This bill modifies the required placement of signs regarding human trafficking penalties by public schools. School districts will be required to post signs in conspicuous places likely to be viewed by all employees and visitors rather than on the perimeter of each campus. The bill also removes the requirement for private schools to display these signs.

Effective September 1, 2023.

Private School Access to Criminal History Record Information (SB 1471)

This bill requires and authorizes accredited private schools to obtain criminal history record information through the clearinghouse in the same manner as school districts.

Effective June 18, 2023.

Addition Information

Additional information on changes as a result of the 88th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature in the areas below is available in the following HRX articles:

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April Mabry
April Mabry
Best Practices: Salary Notification Letters

April Mabry oversees HR Services training services, member library products, and the HRX newsletter. She has provided HR training and guidance to Texas public schools  since 1991. Mabry was a classroom teacher for 11 years in Texas and Michigan.

Mabry has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan and certification as a professional in human resources (PHR) and is a SHRM-CP.

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