Italy ISD Superintendent Barry Bassett was just as surprised as others when the school district was listed as not meeting safety requirements Monday, Dec. 17.
In the aftermath of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut, Attorney General Greg Abbott released a list of 78 school districts that the Texas School Safety Center had not reported a school safety plan or did not meet reporting requirements.
Accusations arose that the school district did not have a school safety plan, but Bassett was quick to say those rumors are false.
“We do have a security audit on file and have an emergency operations plan,” Bassett said.
What he discovered was that the district had failed to file a survey as part of its report, which resulted in Italy being placed on the list of school districts that did not meet requirements.
“It was an oversight in regard to a survey that we didn’t make available to the Texas School Safety Center,” he said. “We do have a safety audit on file and many instructors and administration members took part in that.”
Bassett said the district submitted the missing survey Wednesday and their district will be removed from the list.
However, in the midst of this misreport, other accusations about the district’s lack of security came forward.
Italy Police Chief Diron Hill said he has asked for the district’s emergency operations plan on several occasions and never received it, nor has the Italy Police Department ever participated in drills with the district.
“When I started as police chief in 2000, within the first few months it was my priority to review the district’s emergency preparedness plan to see the role of the police department,” Hill said. “No plan was ever given to me and on several other occasions I contacted the administration and staff and it was the same.”
Hill also claimed that he had tried to contact Bassett recently to see the plan, but was told it was under review and with the Region X auditor and was not available.
“According to Texas Education Code 37.108, each district not should, but shall have an emergency operations plan and take measures to coordinate with local first responders,” Hill said. “It (the plan) should be readily available.”
However, Bassett was surprised to hear Hill’s claims, especially after meeting with him just the day before to discuss the district’s emergency plan.
“I spoke to the chief yesterday and I showed him the plan. From our perspective we have made all of this information available to the police department and all the agencies involved,” Bassett said. “We want to have good communication with all of the stakeholders or agencies involved. We are going through a time of review to see how effective we are. We want the school to be safer than it is now, and it’s safer than it was a year and a half ago.”
Bassett said that the district installed security doors at the high school/junior high and elementary campuses this past summer and has conducted numerous lock down, tornado and fire drills to ensure safety and preparedness.
“After I have had a chance to review our most recent audit, we will be working toward making improvements not only to our security but to other areas of the district as well,” Bassett said.
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