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Del Valle ISD school board demands new gun restrictions after Uvalde massacre

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Renee Dominguez
/
KUT
Teachers and other demonstrators march to Sen. Ted Cruz's office in Austin last month to demand action to prevent gun violence following the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

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A Central Texas school board is urging elected officials at the local, state and federal level to take steps to prevent gun violence following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

During a special board meeting earlier this week, the Del Valle ISD Board of Trustees approved a resolution demanding lawmakers enact legislation to keep schools safe. It asked elected officials to put aside partisan differences to “do what is necessary to end the senseless slaughter of children and young adults that plagues our communities with the unfettered access to deadly weapons including semi-automatic rifles.”

School Board President Rebecca Birch said trustees would like legislators to pursue a variety of strategies to reduce gun violence.

"You can’t prevent the next Uvalde, Sutherland Springs, El Paso, you won’t have that ability if all you’re going to do is focus on putting the burden on the victims to take care of themselves."
Rebecca Birch, Del Valle ISD school board president

“Specifically, we asked for them to look at mandatory waiting periods, age restrictions, red flag laws, restricting the types of weapons that could be purchased by individual citizens [and] mandatory training,” she said. “Do everything and anything necessary to protect the lives of the children and our community members.”

Birch also pushed back on proposals that some Texas Republicans have floated, such as arming school staff — which is already allowed in the state through the school marshal program — and restricting the number of entrances to school buildings. Both Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz have suggested there be one point of entry at schools.

“The answer isn’t that we need to arm all of our teachers and our administrators. The answer can’t be that you have one door that enters in and out of the building,” she said. “There has to be [a] more comprehensive approach to this effort and it has to start with limiting who, and when, and how an individual can purchase a weapon of war.”

A new survey from Texas AFT, the state affiliate of the national union the American Federation of Teachers, found 77% of respondents do not want to be armed or expected to intercept a gunman.

Birch said the school board will do what it has to do to protect campuses but the focus cannot just be on “hardening” buildings.

“You can’t prevent the next Uvalde, Sutherland Springs, El Paso, you won’t have that ability if all you’re going to do is focus on putting the burden on the victims to take care of themselves,” she said.

The Del Valle ISD Board of Trustees also approved another resolution calling on the Texas Association of School Boards to include gun violence prevention in the group’s agenda for the next legislative session. The TASB delegate assembly will decide in September whether to include the issue in the group's advocacy agenda. The Texas Legislature is set to convene for its 88th regular session on Jan. 10.

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Updated: June 17, 2022 at 11:06 AM CDT
This story has been updated to note the Texas Association of School Boards' delegate assembly will decide in September whether to include the issue in the group's advocacy agenda.
Becky Fogel is the education reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at rfogel@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @beckyfogel.
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