New school safety and security chief starts at Texas Education Agency


By Bethany Blankley 

A new chief of School Safety and Security at the Texas Education Agency started Monday. John P. Scott previously served as assistant special agent in charge for the U.S. Secret Service Dallas/North Texas District.

The role was created after the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde to ensure that all public schools in Texas are implementing school safety policies and using best practices to safeguard against school shootings or other dangers.

"Protecting Texas children and making our schools safer for all are top priorities, and John Scott is uniquely qualified to help lead our efforts ensuring their safety and security in Texas schools," Gov. Greg Abbott said, adding that Scott's “wealth of experience in security and intelligence and exemplary service to our nation make him the perfect fit” for the role.

Scott says he plans to “work closely with partner agencies and school systems across the state to keep our students and staff safe.”

Scott previously served as assistant to the special agent in charge for the North Texas Cyber Fraud Task Force, assistant to the special agent in charge for the Protective Intelligence & Physical Protection Unit in Dallas, and assistant special agent in charge at the Secret Service Headquarters/Protective Operations Division in Washington, D.C.

He also served as special agent in the Vice Presidential Protective Division and Dignitary Protective Division in Washington, D.C., and in the Houston Field Office. Before joining the Secret Service, Scott was a U.S. Army Field Artillery Officer and captain where he completed Airborne and Ranger schools. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Texas Tech University, where he was named a Distinguished Military Graduate.

As the new school safety chief of Texas, Scott will be the single point of contact for coordinating school safety and security efforts statewide. He’ll be enhancing TEA efforts with the Texas School Safety Center, the Department of Public Safety, the Health and Human Services Commission, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, the Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium, and the Advance Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center, school districts, and other entities.

While Democratic challenger Robert “Beto” O’Rourke claimed in a debate Friday night that Abbott “hasn’t done anything” for the families of Uvalde, numerous actions have been taken at the state and local level.

The state initially invested $5 million to establish a long-term Family Resiliency Center in Uvalde County to serve as a hub for community services, including access to critical mental health resources. Uvalde community members seeking state mental health resources can receive help 24/7 by calling 888-690-0799.

Abbott also established the Family Assistance Center in Uvalde through which multiple state agencies provided a range of services and assistance, including crime victim services, consulate services, death benefits, counseling and spiritual care, access to health services like Medicaid, CHIP, SNAP, Healthy Texas Women, access to health benefits, workers' compensation, childcare and unemployment, among others. The state also facilitated The OneStar Foundation overseeing donations to The Robb School Memorial Fund to assist victims’ families, teachers, and the Uvalde community.

The state provided $1.25 million to Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District to provide trauma-informed counseling, crisis intervention, and community outreach. Employees with the state Health and Human Services Commission also sought to ensure that all children in Uvalde have access to behavioral health resources and community support.

The Uvalde County Juvenile Probation Department received a $295,000 grant to help at-risk youth exhibiting emotional or behavioral problems at school.

An additional 30 law enforcement officers were also assigned to UCISD campuses for the new school year.

The state has allocated more than $105.5 million to enhance school safety and mental health services statewide. The Texas legislature convened special legislative committees and developed legislative recommendations on school safety, mental health, social media, police training, firearm safety, among others. It also held hearings and reported its findings on the school district’s alleged failure to comply with state safety measures as well as alleged failures made by law enforcement officials in response to the shooting.

The Texas School Safety Center has extended its school safety reviews to ensure all public schools are following the appropriate procedures to maximize school safety. And Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training programs have expanded training to all school districts, prioritizing school-based law enforcement.

State agencies are also expanding their ability to report suspicious activity through the iWatchTexas reporting system as well as expanding public awareness through public safety campaigns.

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