HISD holds Q&A session on school safety

Several people at the event raised concerns about HISD’s recent vote putting more than $2 million of funds into active shooter equipment.

HISD holds Q&A session on school safety

HOUSTON — Houston ISD on Saturday held a Q&A session on school safety on the city’s east end.

The forum held at Harris County General Store Barbecue gave parents, educators and community members the opportunity to talk with HISD leaders and local law enforcement one-on-one.

Several people at the event raised concerns about HISD’s recent vote putting more than $2 million of funds into active shooter equipment.

“What they are not talking about, if you break down the money, it’s actually going towards a lot of guns, there’s a lot of equipment,” said HISD parent Saba Blanding.

HISD Board trustee members Dani Hernandez and Judith Cruz voted no on Thursday’s measure.

“We know that we are buying rifles, but I also want to know about our campuses, the actual building is safe. I don’t know, as a trustee, when that is going to happen,” said Hernandez.

“I am asking the questions of why this is a priority, how does this fit into the long-term plan, the longer-term plan in terms of the district for safety,” said Cruz.

HISD Police Chief Pedro Lopez and HPD Chief Troy Finner made efforts to be transparent on the matter.

“If you look at our laws and look at everything that is going on, you have to simply meet that force with that force,” Finner said. “If I go up to a suspect that has an automatic rifle, I’m outgunned — but in front of that is a lot of training, a lot restraint, a lot of communication with board members, teachers and everyone.”

Safety is a top concern for many parents as we head into the new school year.

Lopez responded to a question weighing heavily on both educators’ and parents’ minds.

“How do you respond to what the superintendent said that HISD is not ready for an active shooter?” one attendee asked.

“I think his comment was taken out of context. We are prepared, and he knows that. It’s just the public, when they see those statements it’s alarming, and took it out of context. We are prepared, I just want to make that clear,” said Lopez.

Lopez says the $2.3 million being used toward the equipment was already put into the district’s police budget.

He says the items, including rifles and ballistic shields, were requested last year. Lopez says Thursday’s vote gave them the official green light for purchase.

Blanding says she is heading into the school year with a sense of uncertainty for children.

“I mean I’m frustrated but just going to keep on,” she said.

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