Waco ISD Superintendent participates in Governor's first school safety roundtable

Posted at 8:53 PM, May 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:31:42-04

Governor Greg Abbott has invited the superintendent from Waco ISD to the first school safety roundtable on Tuesday.

Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek released a list of attendees on his Twitter page Monday.

Superintendent Marcus Nelson will provide perspective on region-specific safety challenges based on his experiences.

He said he shared with other school leaders and officers how the district and its police department handle threats.

"We've had to follow up with those social media threats and for us, it involves contacting the parents," Dr. Nelson said. "It involves law enforcement doing an assessment to see if the kid has access to weapons." 

After the investigation is complete, the student can be expelled.

"We take every threat seriously, it doesn't matter if the student made the threat on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat," Dr. Nelson said. "If it shows someone with a weapon or saying that they want to hurt or harm someone else. We are obligated to keep our students and staff safe so we go through the process each time."

He stated that during the session, other ideas to improve safety were discussed, including adding metal detectors. 

"We're looking at different types of ways to keep our students safe, we are considering metal detectors," Dr. Nelson said. "We are considering how we design our facilities and how we design facilities in the future. We are looking to add more counselors and more officers." 

He said the community can also help when it comes to making sure students are safe. 

"We want to emphasize to our parents their role in helping us identify possible threats," Dr. Nelson said. "We want the students to know if they see something, they should say something." 

Waco ISD plans to review its safety and improve them during the summer. The plan is expected to be completed in July. 

He added that at this point there are no plans to arm staff members, which was a topic some of the attendees spoke about in Austin.

Nelson released this statement about the roundtable:

“In light of recent events, our hearts have been heavy, and our thoughts have been with the community of Santa Fe, TX. Once again, these types of tragedies are forcing school districts throughout our nation to take a deeper look at our protocols for responding to similar types of crises.

“Our students, our staff and our community can be confident that our campus safety plans have been carefully scrutinized and re-evaluated. In addition, every officer in the district’s police department receives Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training along with force-on-force training and multi-agency collaboration training.

“No one does their best thinking in isolation, and the governor’s roundtable is a valuable opportunity to share ideas and make sure that no stone is left unturned when it comes to our students’ safety. I look forward to the conversation and to bringing what I hear back to Waco, so we can strengthen our plan.”

The roundtables are in response to the recent shooting at Santa Fe High School, where 10 people died in the shooting.

Governor Abbott said the roundtables include opinions from school administrators that allow the arming of teachers and those that do not. Victims, educators, and family members from Santa Fe, Sutherland Springs, Alpine and Italy, TX are also being invited to participate in a roundtable discussion later this week.

The first roundtable will be held on May 22 at the Texas Capitol.

“I am seeking the best solutions to make our schools more secure and to keep our communities safe,” Governor Abbott said. “I look forward to hearing from all sides of the debate, and from expert perspectives on these issues. Working together, we can ensure a safe learning environment for students and safer communities for all Texans.”

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