Jan. 10: This article has been updated to include information from the Sharyland ISD public relations department.
Sharyland ISD had at least one campus undergo the state-mandated intruder audits in the first half of the school year. The Texas School Safety Center conducts the inspections and determines if unauthorized individuals can enter the building from any location.
Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services Pamela Montalvo did not state which of the 14 campuses TxSSC audited, nor did she specify the results. But she did say that the school district had to “put corrective actions and plans in place where needed.”
“We acknowledge that parents and community members are likely very interested in the details of the audit reports,” Montalvo said. “However, it is in the best interest of our students that we do not share information to the broader public as they can lead to compromising important campus security information.”
When asked if the mock-intruder was able to enter any of Sharyland ISD’s buildings during the audit, Director of Public Relations Nancy Barboza could not provide a direct answer.
“Unfortunately, the District is prohibited from disclosing the information you seek, as the results of the audit, including the information you seek, directly impacts student and staff safety,” Barboza said in an email.
The school board discussed the details of the intruder detection audit in executive session at the Dec. 19 meeting. Additionally, the district met with SISD’s school district safety and security committee Dec. 13 to review the audit findings.
Sharyland has had two committee meetings since the start of the school year. They are open to the public but not recorded and, therefore, not uploaded to the district’s website or YouTube page like the monthly board meetings.
The TxSSC audits are part of a new line of programs the state government implemented in response to the mass shooting in Uvalde in May 2022. Rather than address gun legislation, Texas leaders have chosen to focus on school security and response tactics. As a result, Sharyland ISD, among other districts in the area, resorted to contracting security companies and local law enforcement to patrol the grounds.
To avoid alarm, the Texas School Safety Center notifies police officials and district administration about the audit ahead of time. However, they do not specify which campus they will visit to ensure accurate results. During the inspection, the surveyor tests four items:
- Unsecured access gained to schools
- Unsecured exterior doors
- Documentation of weekly exterior door sweeps from the last 30 days
- Unlocked classroom doors
The auditor conducts the assessment in a nonthreatening manner. They wear civilian clothing and are unarmed. Moving from door to door, the inspector checks to see if they can enter any of the buildings on campus.
Multiple auditors may be on location during the inspection, and the process might take more than one day. TxSSC requires they minimize disruption to campus activity, so students and staff should be unaware of the inspection. But if someone on campus questions the auditor and what they are doing, they will explain the reason for the visit.
Following the inspection, the Safety Center provides an audit report to the district. Per state regulation, administration must share the findings with the school board. Although SISD leaders did not release the details, the corrective action plan is already in place when the students return for the spring semester Jan. 9.
“Sharyland ISD is committed to providing a safe and secure learning environment for our students and staff,” Montalvo said.
The state planned to audit all districts by December 2022 and 75% of all public and charter campuses by May 2023.