Residents on Wednesday praised Galveston Independent School District officials for their response to the recent mass shooting in Parkland, Fla.
“We were reminded last week of the terror of mass shootings,” said Abel Longoria, who is part of the district’s facilities advisory committee. “We realize these are becoming more prevalent, but we don’t have to accept it. Therefore, I am so thankful for your foresight and recognition of security as a priority in this bond.”
Longoria’s comments came before Galveston school district police Chief LeeRoy Amador discussed safety procedures and Galveston Police Department Chief Vernon Hale talked about recent events.
“The threat is real,” Hale said.
The $31 million May bond referendum trustees called for in February sets aside about $2.95 million for districtwide security upgrades and LED lighting upgrades. Those security upgrades will include creating security vestibules at 13 campuses and replacing many of the district’s outdated security cameras.
Those inclusions are particularly prescient in light of recent events in Parkland, Fla., Longoria said.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, made national headlines when he shot and killed 17 students and teachers on Valentine’s Day at his former high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Since the incident, school districts across the nation, including at least three in Galveston County, have responded to rumors of similar threats against campuses.
The League City Police Department in a recent Facebook post said it was aware of a threat against students and faculty at Clear Creek High School.
The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office, which handles security at the school, was contacted. The two departments provided extra patrols at the school, although the threat was believed to be a hoax.
At Galveston Independent School District, school officials were alerted to a social media rumor about someone causing a “severe disruption” at Ball High School on Feb. 27. The school investigated that threat, and determined it was a “false rumor,” according to a message sent to parents.
A Hitchcock High School student was charged Monday with a third-degree felony after being accused of telling classmates and a teacher he was going to turn the campus into another Parkland, police said.
Galveston school district officials Wednesday highlighted security measures.
Every school is monitored through a series of security cameras and district police officers watch social media and investigate the claims to verify or disprove them, Amador said.
Principals and staff at each of the district’s schools has to have a detailed plan for what happens in case of an emergency, Amador said.
Each school is also encouraged to have a drill for dealing with an armed intruder, Amador said.
One of the city’s goals is to connect with school officials and discuss security policies to make sure everyone is on the same page, Hale said.
Both Hale and Amador said there was a need for a meeting with stakeholders to discuss security procedures and ways to make schools safer in the future.
“We are constantly evaluating procedures,” Amador said.
Trustees called for Wednesday’s discussion shortly after learning about the shooting in Florida, President Matthew Hay said.