RRISD Ends Partnership with Law Enforcement, Establishes School Safety Committee

By Jake Schlanger, Community & World News Editor

Last year, the law enforcement agencies that have historically provided RRISD with School Resource Officers (SROs), decided to end their partnership with the district. The agencies cited the demands of providing SROs to the district with limited resources as part of the reason that they decided to pull out of the partnership.

“Currently the district has SROs provided by Round Rock Police Department, the Williamson County Service, and 2 officers from Austin Community College Police Department,” Board of Trustees President Amy Weir said. “All three SRO providers have told the district that they will not be able to provide SROs in the future.” 

On Feb. 20, the Board of Trustees passed a resolution approving the formation of a new police department. This critical step allowed for the district to begin working on the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) application, which when approved will allow the district to begin operating its own police department. One part of the TCOLE application is to have a system in place to allow for the dispatch of police officers in the case of an emergency.

Round Rock ISD does not have its own emergency communications center,” Executive Director of Security and Safety Jeffery Yarbrough said. “As a result, we can either partner with a law enforcement agency that currently operates an emergency communications center with the capacity to provide dispatch services for the new police department or create our own emergency communications center.”

Once this is complete, the district will have to acquire memorandums from the police and sheriff departments within district boundaries that acknowledge the overlapping jurisdictions. After these steps, the TCOLE application can be submitted. According to Ms. Weir, the RRISD police department will provide SROs for all secondary campuses in the district starting in the 2021-22 school year.

The district is also creating a school safety committee, as mandated by Senate Bill 11 (SB 11). The committee is required to be composed of a number of different individuals, including local officials from the county and sheriff’s office, parents, and several RRISD officials. One of these officials will be Ms. Weir.

The RRISD SB 11 Safety Committee has not met yet, though the district has had a safety committee in place prior to SB 11. RRISD will be working to implement all the new state law requirements into the new safety committee,” Ms. Weir said.

The old safety committee was created in 2017, and since then has met three times a year. There is no difference between this committee and the SB 11 Safety Committee, except for the new rule on the committee’s composition.

The committee reviews the multi-hazard emergency ops plans required for districts and it also makes sure that the plans are consistent with best practices,” Mr. Yarbrough said. “The committee also reviews the results of the safety audit that school districts are required to conduct at least every 3 years [and] makes recommendations to correct any deficiencies.”

The mandate that schools create a safety committee comes as part of a greater initiative on the part of Governor Greg Abbott to increase school safety and came after several Texas school shootings in 2019. The Stop the Bleed kits that were recently installed at Westwood were also part of this safety initiative.