As a member of the Secret Service, he protected the president of the United States.

Now Mike Matranga is protecting the school children in Texas City and La Marque.

He’s the executive director of security and school safety, and he heads up a plan unique in the State of Texas.

He’s a graduate of La Marque High School who believes what his wife said about his present job. “God put you in the right place at the right time,” she said.

He told the assembled Community Advisory Committee recently about all the physical security improvements in the district and of the mental improvements he hopes will come.

Because of the distribution of funds, the physical aspects of school protection were implemented first.

Everybody inside a school building, including teachers, staff and children, wears an ID badge, but that system will go away next year in favor of better ways of keeping track of people.

At the present time, and for all future time, no unknown presence comes into a school building.

All the teachers have keys to lock their rooms. Everybody has voice communication with everybody. An “active shooter” message goes to everybody in a building.

One of the first things Matranga implemented was the presence of more law enforcement officers in more buildings.

“There were officers at the secondary schools, but none at the elementary schools, so I asked for eight more deputies,” he said. “Now there are 19 deputies in the district and that has been phenomenal.”

“Those elementary children could not fight, or run,” he added. They each got a deputy.

Matranga works with other school districts and created a group of their security people who meet to exchange information and ideas.

He thinks social media is the culprit in lots of bad behavior among youngsters. “They say and do things they normally would not do. They have become desensitized,” he said.

He said if he had a choice, his first changes would have included teaching better behavior among the students and recognizing and helping those who had mental problems.

“We have to find ways to mentor children,” he said.

He plans to hire a new director to focus on mental health. “If we do it in the right way, we can do it,” he said.

Asked if he would like to have classes teaching parents how to be good parents, he heartily concurred.

“We have got to get to the point, again, of a village raising a child,” he added.

Cathy Gillentine is a Daily News columnist. She may be reached at cathy.gillentine@comcast.net.

(1) comment

Alan Waters

Hiring this professional was a great move by the TCISD. The error many school districts make is the thought that all law enforcement is the same. As a former Police Chief and Corporate Security Director, I can tell you first hand that this is not correct. When I took over the security for Compaq Computer world wide, my deficiencies came to light immediately. Even though I was a certified CPP and had a Master's Degree, there were items that they expected me to implement, direct, and supervise that I had no idea, background, or experience with; Access control, Executive protection, Perimeter security, Travel security, Kidnap prevention, Risk assessment. All of these are items you need expertise in if you are to successfully implement a true environment of security and safety for a facility and the the people there, as in school security. What did I do, I hired a retired Secret Service supervisor and went to many schools to bring myself up to speed. Texas City ISD avoided the appearance of security that was implemented by untrained professionals that were in a state of learning, unknown to the district. They hired a professional that could hit the ground running.....

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