Santa Fe High School teachers return for the first time since mass shooting on campus

Santa Fe High School teachers return for the first time since mass shooting on campus
Posted at 11:21 AM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 11:21:00-04

Five days after a gunman slaughtered 10 people at a Texas high school, teachers are returning Wednesday to the site of the massacre.

Santa Fe High School teachers and staff are returning "to support each other and prepare for our students' return," said Leigh Wall, superintendent of the Santa Fe Independent School District.

Students will return next Tuesday, Wall said. They'll have access to "counseling assistance from many state and local agencies" and will see additional law enforcement officers on campus, the superintendent said.


While Santa Fe grieves the deaths of eight students and two teachers, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will host a second roundtable discussion Wednesday to find ways to help stop school violence. The first roundtable was held Tuesday.

This time, Abbot will meet with school officials, mental health experts and interest groups that advocate for and against gun control measures.

The governor also is asking the public to weigh in by sharing ideas on this website.

Who's coming to this roundtable?

Two dozen guests have been invited to Wednesday's afternoon roundtable, including:

-- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has made controversial remarks about the causes of school shootings

-- Mike Morath, commissioner of the Texas Education Agency

-- Ed Scruggs, board vice chairman of Texas Gun Sense

-- Alice Tripp, legislative director of the Texas State Rifle Association

-- Jeri Stone, executive director of Texas Classroom Teachers Association

-- School district administrators

-- Mental health experts

-- Several state Democratic and GOP lawmakers

Ideas from the first roundtable

The first meeting Tuesday was attended by almost two dozen school administrators, politicians, law enforcement officials and an architect with expertise on school design, among others.

The roundtable was closed to the media. But afterward, Abbott read a long list of ideas discussed, such as:

-- Expanding the school marshal program, which allows trained school personnel to carry concealed weapons on campus

-- Having greater parental accountability

-- Creating more threat assessment teams

-- Hiring more school counselors

-- Making it easier for students to report potential problems, possibly by rewarding them

-- Installing more metal detectors

-- Conducting mental health evaluations starting as early as elementary school

Cecilia Reynolds-Perez, principal of W.B. Ray High School in Corpus Christi, said Tuesday she was concerned about a shortage of school counselors.

"We don't have enough," she told CNN. "We have like one counselor to every 600 students, and there's no way for a counselor to identify warning signs about some students, the potential ones, who are going to cause these (violent) actions."

Tuesday's participants also talked about allowing more school personnel to carry firearms on campus.

A recent CNN story reported that 170 Texas school districts (out of about 1,000) already allow teachers and administrators to carry concealed weapons on school grounds.

Round Rock Police Chief Allen Banks said there are pros and cons to the idea.

"You can't put somebody that is not proficient in that firearm in a position to where they'll have to use deadly force," he said. "Training has to be paramount."

Abbott said he hoped some of the ideas could be implemented by the start of the next school year, such as an improved threat-assessment system that would allow schools across Texas to better share information.

What's happening next

The last of three roundtable meetings will take place Thursday and will focus on victims and victims' families.

The meetings were prompted by the nation's most recent school massacre in Santa Fe, Texas, where police say Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, killed 10 people at his school with a shotgun and a pistol. He is charged with multiple counts of capital murder and aggravated assault on a public servant.

"The problem is that innocent people are being shot," Abbott said. "The reality is that we all want guns out of the hands of people who want to murder our children."