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Denton ISD Board of School Trustees Approve Resolution to Address HB3, Revise Board Policy

Denton ISD’s Board of School Trustees revised board policy and approved a resolution that includes a good cause exception to address House Bill 3 at a meeting on Tuesday night. HB 3, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in June, allows school boards to claim a good cause exception due to the lack of availability of either funding or qualified personnel.

During its 2023 regular session, the Texas Legislature approved HB3, which requires a variety of safety measures, including for school districts to have an armed police officer or a commissioned peace officer employed as security personnel at every campus during regular school hours.

As part of claiming a good cause exception, school boards must develop an alternative standard. The law goes into effect Sept. 1. The district’s newly-approved resolution includes claiming a good cause exception based on a lack of available personnel and then proposes the district’s current program as an alternative standard.

HB3 mandates various school safety requirements like security vestibules with ID verification, impact resistant film, campus numbering site plans, visitor check-in systems, standard response protocol and 911 alert systems in every classroom – all of which Denton ISD has already incorporated.

Denton ISD’s robust safety plan also includes 24-hour monitored video surveillance, security video applications accessible by local municipalities and multiple elementary schools staffed with student resource officers (SROs). These items are not required by state law.

As a result of the district’s successful bond referendum this past May, Denton ISD will be implementing additional safety features in the near future, including: increased camera surveillance providing zero common area blind spots, secured waiting areas, ballistic glass for interiors, increased electronic door monitoring and thumb latch interior door locks.

Denton ISD will also hire school security officers, which will serve as armed security at several campuses throughout the district. These officers will be employees of the district, along with being certified peace officers.

The Board of School Trustees’ revision to CKE (LOCAL) details the responsibilities of the school security officers and supports the resolution that was approved to hire them. The resolution includes direction for Denton ISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jamie Wilson to seek the assignment of additional SROs as they become available from law enforcement partners. It also directs Dr. Wilson to continuously evaluate the district’s safety and security measures.

School districts only received $15,000 per campus and just $0.28 per student in state funding from HB3 to implement this new requirement of having armed security at every campus. Denton ISD received less than $700,000 in state funding from HB3, and the hiring of school safety officers will cost the district $2.3 million.

The district currently has 26 SROs district-wide. 

“We are not striving for compliance. We are striving for excellence,” said Dr. Jeff Russell, Area Superintendent of the Braswell High School Zone. “The safety of our students and staff has been, and will continue to be, our utmost priority. We wanted to exercise local control by hiring the best, most qualified officers for these positions rather than utilize an outside third-party firm.”

Denton ISD’s school security officers will maintain training with local law enforcement municipalities and receive their Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) certification. As the district continues to hire school safety officers, Denton ISD will work with local police departments to provide rover support to necessary campuses.

Additional SROs will also be provided to campuses, where available.