Texas Gov. Greg Abbott emphasized school safety during his inaugural speech, specifically focusing on students’ mental health.
“We must prioritize protecting students and staff,” said Abbott. “We must provide mental health services to students who need it. Parents must know that their children are safe when they drop them off every morning. We will not end this session without making our schools safer.”
The Texas Legislature created the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium in 2019 after the Santa Fe school shooting to “address urgent mental health challenges and improve the mental health care system in this state in relation to children and adolescents.”
Following the tragic Uvalde shooting last year, the Legislative Budget Board—composed of Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R–Beaumont), Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and the budget writers in both chambers—redirected more than $100 million in funding to school safety and mental health initiatives.
While $90 million went to school safety initiatives, $10 million was awarded to the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium.
Speaker Phelan originally proposed awarding more than $100 million to mental health initiatives. Notably, Phelan’s wife, Kim, sits on the board of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, which is one of three nonprofits with a seat on the board of the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium.
However, some grassroots leaders have raised serious concerns regarding government interference in children’s mental health, saying, “A $100 million psychiatric consortium with connections to the pharmaceutical industry deployed to our community schools puts Texas children at risk of dangerous psychotropic drugging, data mining, and profiling based on family values, religious beliefs, and economic circumstances.”
Any legislation addressing mental health evaluations in children’s schools is likely to be closely monitored by grassroots leaders.
Meanwhile, Patrick also signaled his support for additional school safety funding in a preview of his legislative priorities late last year. However, Patrick and Republicans in the Texas Senate have focused on increasing school security rather than overarching mental health initiatives following the Uvalde shooting.
Texas lawmakers are currently in session and are expected to propose additional school safety measures.
State Rep. Nate Schatzline (R–Fort Worth) has two pieces of legislation in the Texas House that would require each school to maintain one public entrance and lock all other doors to the building as well as post armed security officers on every campus.
“The children of Texas are our greatest resource and should be protected at all costs,” said Schatzline.
Concerned citizens can contact their elected officials to discuss school safety policies for Texas children.