The Legal Brief: TEA Proposes $2.1 Billion Dollar Rule for School Facility Safety and Maintenance 

TEA has proposed a new rule 19 TAC §61.1031 for facility safety and security that would apply to all public school instructional facilities, whether owned, operated, or leased. The proposed new rule requires specific standards for exterior doors, primary entrances, ground level windows, and security of all entrances.  It also requires all entrances to be secured, maintained to operate as intended and appropriately monitored.  Other safety and security standards would apply depending on whether instructional facilities are within an exterior secured area or are actively monitored.

The proposed new rule would also establish requirements for communication infrastructure required across all public school instructional facilities, including equipment to facilitate law enforcement and emergency responder two-way radio function within buildings and for panic devices and emergency alert systems within school facilities.  Any exterior doors with automatic locking systems must automatically lock if the alert system is triggered and must notify relevant campus staff in the event the lock cannot engage.

Additionally, weekly inspections of all exterior doors and reporting to the school’s safety and security committee would be required.  It also would require semi-annual maintenance inspections of locking mechanisms of doors, ground level windows, perimeter barriers and gates, panic buttons, phone reporting location systems, master key boxes and two way radio operation within buildings.   Another part of the rule would require public school systems to implement operating requirements related to access control, exterior door numbering, and maintenance.

TEA estimates that for the first five years there are no additional costs to state government. For local government, the state-wide fiscal impact is estimated to total approximately $2.1 billion in fiscal year 2023.  The public comment period begins November 11, 2022 and ends December 12, 2022. The form for submitting comments to the rule can be found at https://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/Laws_and_Rules/Commissioner_Rules_(TAC)/Proposed_Commissioner_of_Education_Rules/

TEA has set the public hearing on the rule for 9:00 a.m. on December 5, 2022, at the William B. Travis Building, Room 1-100, 1701 N. Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas 78701. Anyone wishing to testify at the hearing must sign in between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on the day of the hearing.

We will continue to follow these issues and provide updates as they become available.  Should questions arise regarding the current or proposed school safety requirements, please feel free to contact Leon|Alcala, PLLC for additional guidance.

Author: Hans Graff