From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
August 26, 1999
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senator Ellis, Comptroller Rylander Discuss School Safety

(Austin)// --Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Texas Comptroller Carol Keeton Rylander today joined education and law enforcement leaders at Ryan Middle School in Houston to highlight legislative efforts to improve safety at Texas schools.

Comptroller Rylander and Senator Ellis discussed SB 1724, legislation passed this session that will get parents and schools more involved in keeping our classrooms safe. The new law, a key Texas Performance Review recommendation, will give parents more information about violence and violence prevention programs in Texas schools.

"The Columbine shootings were a wake-up call to Texas parents, educators and lawmakers that more must be done to manage and prevent violence in our schools," said Ellis. "Thanks to this new law, parents will find it easier to get more involved in the safety of their child's school."

In many districts, parents are not informed about acts of violence that have occurred on campus, or whether a district has a specific plan to deal with violence. SB 1724 will:

During the 1996-1997 school year there were nearly 9,000 reported incidents of gang-related violence; more than 45,000 students were assaulted, nearly 4,000 teachers were assaulted; and more than 500 guns and nearly 8,000 knives and other weapons were confiscated. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 45 percent of elementary schools, 74 percent of middle schools, and 77 percent of high schools nationwide reported incidents of violent crime.

"It is every parent's job to make sure they help Texas teachers, principals and administrators provide the best, safest schools for our children. With more and more kids carrying arms to school, we need to arm parents with information about what they can do to make our schools safer."