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Texas school districts assessing doors and locks in the wake of Uvalde

The TEA issued a set of required safety checks to be performed over the summer.

HOUSTON, Texas — Houston ISD’s Milby High School campus features dozens of exterior doors.

They’re among more than 300,000 schools the Texas Education Agency wants districts statewide to check as a result of Uvalde along with a number of other safety checks.

"It is definitely one of my worst nightmares,” said Milby principal Ruth Pena.

Pena said making sure doors are in working order is an everyday issue and there are staff directives to keep them shut and locked during the school day.

They're also monitored by select personnel.

"And I’m not going to tell you we’ve never had, you know, just a kid from another campus trying to come in and skip or things like that," said Pena.  "We have had that happen, but it’s caught right away.”

In its report released this week, a Texas House committee investigating the Uvalde tragedy cited multiple lapses aside from the police response.

“In violation of school policy, no one had locked any of the three exterior doors to the west building of Robb Elementary.  As a result, the attacker had unimpeded access to enter,” stated the report.

Interior classroom doors are an issue too.

In Uvalde, the classroom where the carnage occurred had a malfunctioning lock that teachers had reportedly brought up.

Some districts have installed classroom doors with what are known as “intruder locksets” which remain secured automatically during the school day.

The state is offering money to districts that may need financial or technical support for retrofits.

It will hopefully shut the door on at least one issue coming out of Uvalde.

“I think it just opened a lot of eyes and made it a little bit more serious," said Pena.  "Because it could happen to any of us.”

Pena has also organized some crisis response training for her staff this summer.

She said social and emotional support are also important parts of a plan to combat potential violence.

We asked other districts for information regarding door safety checks.  Here are some responses:

Alvin ISD

Our safety measures are in constant review; however, in light of recent tragedies, we have been taking a deeper look at the measures we have in place. We are currently reviewing our policies and comparing them to new guidelines that have recently been established. We exceed the safety recommendations from the State.

As a part of the campus and other district officers’ daily duties, our doors have been checked multiple times throughout the day for several years now. We also do internal audits to see if our doors can be breeched. Maintenance of doors is performed routinely and on an as needed basis.

Fort Bend ISD 

We have RhinoWare door locks on all classroom doors and other building doors. They can be engaged in 1 second, even by a young child. They are not automatically locking doors.

All school vestibules are secured by doors that remain locked. Visitors must be buzzed in by staff who can see them.

Houston ISD

The safety of our students and staff is our top priority. Several HISD school sites have received upgrades to perimeter fencing, security cameras and server capacity to increase video storage capacity as a part of the 2019-2021 School Safety and Security Grant. As a safety precaution, HISD Police and school administrators on campuses constantly survey the campuses throughout the day to ensure that doors leading in and out of the building are securely locked and are not propped open. HISD does have a regulation referencing secure classrooms. Lockdown drills are conducted annually to practice established procedures in the event of lockdown which includes locking the classroom door.

Katy ISD

All of our campuses have safety vestibules located at front entrances, and all exterior doors are required to remain locked throughout the day.

The District also frequently reviews and updates emergency response plans, including testing emergency communications and notification systems. 

Klein ISD

No new locks added. Our exterior doors were already secured with either autolocking/auto-close functionality or key card/videophone access.

Montgomery ISD

Every exterior door in the district is being assessed to ensure they are closing and locking properly. This assessment will be completed before the start of the school year.

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