Texas Governor Holds Discussion After School Shooting
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Texas Governor Greg Abbott says he is searching for ways to keep students in that state safer. This comes after a gunman killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School outside Houston last week. On Tuesday, Governor Abbott convened the first of three scheduled roundtable discussions with members of that community and experts on school safety. Among those present was Dallas Schools superintendent Michael Hinojosa. He joins us now.
Thank you so much for being with us.
MICHAEL HINOJOSA: Thank you, Rachel.
MARTIN: This meeting was reportedly scheduled to happen for one hour. It ran for about three hours. So clearly, people had a lot to say, a lot of perspectives to share. What do you think was the most significant takeaway?
HINOJOSA: Well, to me, the most significant takeaway is that they didn't try to talk us into their ideas. They truly wanted to hear what we had to say. And the fact that it was a very diverse crowd was positive. You had bipartisan people in there. You had law enforcement. You had school people. You had safety experts. So I think - and it was really a genuine dialogue instead of trying to convince us of a certain way. They wanted to hear what we had to say.
MARTIN: We should note, there was an armed security presence at Santa Fe High School. And President Trump has talked a lot about the possibility of arming teachers as a way to prevent things like this from happening. But reports after the shooting in Santa Fe suggest that this school did everything right. They had done the drills. They had a plan for this. Ten people still died.
HINOJOSA: Yes. And that is a significant thought that people go through every day when you deal with this matter. This whole situation ended in four minutes. And Santa Fe did do everything right from what we understand. But that's how volatile these things can be. So that's why we talked about deterrents, mitigation, intervention and prevention. So we talked the whole gamut of things. And, you know, this can happen in an instant. So many times, what's more important is having a deterrent to keep these things from happening.
MARTIN: But - so what's that going to look like? Does that mean arming teachers?
HINOJOSA: Not in our community. And that is the other thing I was worried about going into the meeting, they were going to try to convince us to do that. That would never have passed in our community, and I would never recommend that. And they didn't try to convince us of that. Now, in a smaller community out in the rural areas, that might be appropriate. But that's certainly nothing that we would support. And I was pleased that they didn't try to force us into that kind of a situation. There are other prevention opportunities.
MARTIN: Like what? I mean, in particular, was there any talk of stricter gun laws, background checks...
MARTIN: ...Or longer waiting times?
HINOJOSA: No, that's going to happen today. They're going to talk about gun control and other things 'cause we had - the subject matter experts that we dealt with was more focused on, how do you mitigate? How do you intervene? How do you actually identify students ahead of time? And we even heard from a Secret Service agent about what they do to try to identify people who might be snipers or killers like that and helped us to think in that regard and how we come up with teams to intervene and prevent some of these kinds of things.
MARTIN: So that's where you think the change can happen? Setting aside the issue of gun control, you think that more can be done to identify people with these kinds of problems who might unleash this violence?
HINOJOSA: Absolutely, absolutely. And also, we talked a lot about making sure that the students get rewarded 'cause the students are the one that gives us the tips more often than not. We get more credible information from students. And how do you reward them for doing the right thing, for letting us know that there is a potential problem with one of their peers?
MARTIN: Michael Hinojosa - he's the Dallas Schools superintendent.
Thank you so much for your time this morning, sir. We appreciate it.
HINOJOSA: Thank you very much.
(SOUNDBITE OF WHALE FALL'S "HEART SPACE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.