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Texas School Safety Center established at SWT

Date of release: 05/20/99

SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — Reducing youth violence and promoting safety in schools are the goals of the Texas School Safety Center now forming at Southwest Texas State University.

The center, funded through a $420,000 grant to SWT from the Governor’s Office, will focus on developing safety plans to help schools deal with violence.

“This program will help communities ensure that their schools are places where children can learn without fear,” said Gov. George W. Bush.

The center will work with teams of educators, parents and law enforcement officials from Texas communities and help them develop safety plans tailored to individual school districts. It will serve as an ongoing resource to help reduce youth violence and promote safety.

The center has been in the planning stages for about three months. It will be headquartered in the SWT School of Education and directed by Margaret Dunn, leader of SWT’s Center for Initiatives in Edcuation.

“The School Safety Center and SWT are a perfect fit for each other,” said Dunn. “We have worked extensively with juvenile justice professionals, and we have operated programs in classroom management and discipline, drug and alcohol abuse prevention and dropout prevention serving school districts throughout the state.”

The center will hold regional training sessions and a statewide school safety summit. Training sessions will educate the teams on security technology, creating positive school environments and other issues related to safe schools. Student leaders will attend a leadership training conference to learn about respecting the rights of others and handling disputes peacefully. The center will sponsor a middle school essay contest on violence prevention and peace.

During the 1997-98 school year, there were almost 70,000 acts of violence reported on Texas public school campuses and more than 8,000 weapons were confiscated from students, according to Texas Education Agency statistics. Those figures, combined with growing concerns among parents and educators, led to the formation of the Texas School Safety Center.