A Facilities and Safety Committee Meeting was held in June to review and discuss current safety measures at Harlingen CISD.
HCISD Director of Emergency Management and School Safety Danny Castillo began his presentation by reviewing the following security layers implemented across the district.
- Security Fencing at all campuses
- Controlled and secured entrances at all campuses
- Camera Surveillance Systems at all campuses
- Self-Locking classroom doors installed at all campuses
- Raptor Technologies Visitor Manager System installed and utilized at all campuses
Castillo spoke of the importance of a multifaceted approach to safety.
“We cannot overemphasize the fact that there’s not one singular measure that one district can take,” Castillo said. “It’s going to involve a layer of approaches and the combining of those different approaches to work together in a seamless way.”
He then went on to explain the following initiatives.
Standard Response Protocol
Texas Safety School Center recommended best practice safety protocol system for standardized campus response actions to emergency situations
Raptor Drill Manager System
- Standard Response Protocol Drills: Emergency Response Drills
- Fire Evacuation Drills
School Resource and Security Officers
- School Resource Officer (SRO) Program in partnership with the Harlingen Police Department
- HCISD Security Officer’s presence at all campuses
Handle with Care
A collaboration between local law enforcement and schools to ensure that children exposed to adverse childhood experiences at home receive trauma-informed support and any necessary interventions and mental health support.
Allows students and community members to anonymously report safety and misconduct concerns to help others or connect with a Crisis Counselor from the Crisis Text Line to help themselves.
HCISD Safe and Supportive Schools
- Any identified threatening behavior reviewed and assessed to determine level of concern and appropriate interventions incorporated.
- Key focus is early interventions as a coordinated effort involving multi-disciplinary team approach not only to address any identified threats, but to also provide needed mental health/support services for students in need of such services.
Safety and Security Safety Audit
Completed every three years as required by statute but reviewed as an on-going safety initiative across the entire District.
After Castillo’s presentation, committee members asked questions and discussed the various initiatives that were presented.
“This is something that you truly have to develop that muscle memory and that culture of safety and that’s only done by repetition and consistency,” Castillo said. “So, that is the point of the tools that we have incorporated and that we will be incorporating in the fall. All of this is geared towards making sure that we are getting more and more people compliant all the time with a lot of these strategies.”
Castillo emphasized the importance of developing a culture of safety across the entire district and community throughout the meeting.
“How do we create that culture of safety?” Board President Dr. Bobby Muniz asked.
Castillo responded, “Just the simple fact that someone is greeted at the doorway has the tendency to affect safety. Not everything is about those brick-and-mortar approaches, although there is a place for that, but that is just one layer. It all comes back to educating our staff and our students and our families of that culture that we are building. A huge weight of that is on relationships and developing a welcoming environment where students are free to talk to adults, that they have a trusting adult they can confide in. That is one of the big, big nationally-recognized approaches.”
HCISD will roll out the Raptor Alert System mobile application across the entire district in Fall 2022. This application which is part of the Raptor Emergency Manager Application will help to facilitate immediate notifications internally as well as to law enforcement in the event of an emergency.
“Any user that has that application will be able to initiate an alert from any location, whether it’s on or off campus,” Castillo said. “The alerts are immediately delivered to a custom list of recipients which can include administrators, staff members, and of course first responders.”
A soft rollout of the Raptor Alert System was held at Cano Freshman Academy in May.
The school district plans to host a comprehensive drill in July to test the system.
“We are working with Mr. Hushen’s office at Cameron County to coordinate an exercise this summer, not just for our school district and local law enforcement, but really for all the agencies in our county,” Superintendent Dr. Alicia Noyola said.
Harlingen Police Chief Michael Kester and Cameron County Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Hushen had an opportunity to speak about their partnership with HCISD during the meeting.
“It’s an incredible blessing that we have a former police chief leading us, a very visionary decision,” Board Member Gerry Fleuriet said about Castillo. “We are aware that Harlingen has been proactive in doing these things for a very long time and Danny has just added more and more layers that are critical.”
HCISD’s current safety initiatives were a result of a committee that began in 2018 with the goal to examine and find ways to improve school safety within the district.
“What was supposed to be a five-year rollout has been accomplished in four years and we feel that it is time that we reconvene our design team so that we can keep abreast of the latest in school safety,” Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Dr. Joseph Villarreal said.
To view HCISD’s Safety Initiatives visit www.hcisd.org/safety.