Creating a safe environment for teaching and learning has long been RISD’s No. 1 priority.

For decades, RISD has been on the leading edge of physical improvements and districtwide programs designed to ensure the safety of students and staff. Through the community’s ongoing support of bond programs, RISD schools are well-equipped with safety and security in mind, with funding for updates and improvements provided each bond cycle, or periodically supplemented through grants.

These FAQs are designed to inform RISD stakeholders (parents, employees, students, community) about the ways RISD works to create a safe and secure environment for teaching and learning.

Yes. Each RISD campus has a specific emergency operations plan that is reviewed annually by campus administrators and RISD Safety & Security staff. The site-specific plans inform safety-related preparedness and actions on that campus.

RISD has long been committed to the security of campuses, and the district has been taking measures for decades to equip campuses with safety in mind. Primarily through the RISD community’s support of bond packages, RISD campuses are well-equipped with security features and equipment. Some of the protocols and security measures that RISD campuses employ include:

  • School main entries have double, buzz-in secure vestibules, camera coverage and remote monitors.
  • Keyless, automatic-locking doors with electronic monitoring of all entrances.
  • Keyless, exterior door entry enabled for authorized RISD staff.
  • Full and ongoing audits of exterior door locks to ensure functionality in accordance with state requirements.
  • Wide coverage of interior surveillance cameras, including entrances and hallways.
  • Panic buttons installed for emergency staff use in undisclosed locations.
  • Expansive coverage of exterior surveillance cameras and exterior perimeter lighting.
  • Extensive signage reinforcing students and staff education about safety protocols.
  • Handheld metal detectors at each campus, used randomly as a deterrent and as needed to investigate potential safety concerns. Full-size, portable metal detectors are also used at campuses in response to potential threats or as a general deterrent to bringing prohibited items inside buildings.
  • RISD exterior doors lock automatically during school days and staff and students are educated to not open or prop side or rear doors for visitors for any reason. Visible signage reinforces this expectation, and students who violate this important safety protocol face discipline.
  • Visitors to each campus are vetted through a background check given on the spot via the Raptor screening system
  • All adults are expected to display either a district badge or a visitor badge, and secondary students are expected to display a student badge. Staff are trained to engage adults who do not have a proper badge, and escort them to the office for appropriate screening and vetting.
  • Visitor entry and access to campus is a point of RISD training each year, signage exists on all exterior doors reminding students, staff, and visitors of safety protocols.
  • Armed Dallas and Richardson police officer presence at all secondary schools (grades 7-12) and selected elementary schools.
  • Internal 911 system monitored and responded to by RISD Safety & Security.
  • Telephones in each classroom that are 911 enabled.

RISD administrators and safety staff are trained in the National Incident Management System and Incident Command System emergency management methodologies, the Standard Response Protocol, and The Standard Reunification Method. More information about these methodologies and additional resources are available on this web page.

Part of the training that teachers receive before the start of each year is dedicated to safety procedures and safety drill protocols. Once school begins, each school orients students on school safety protocols, expectations, and drills. Then, each RISD campus prepares multiple times a year for different age-appropriate safety scenarios, through “I Know What To Do” days at schools.

Different safety drills are conducted throughout the year as required under Texas state law. Parents with questions about specific drills or protocols are encouraged to contact the school principal.

Yes. RISD maintains a Safety & Security Department that provides coverage and support to all schools as needed. RISD Safety & Security is the district’s liaison with School Resource Officers and first responders like police and fire/rescue. The RISD department also helps investigate potential threats, provides physical security on campuses as needed, patrols and monitors RISD property after hours, conducts safety audits of each school, directs district and school preparedness for safety-related events and drills, provides training to principals and other administrators, and monitors national trends and best practices. In addition to RISD staff, the district periodically undergoes safety audits conducted by third parties to ensure campus and district protocols are aligned with best practices.

Yes. All RISD junior high schools and high schools are assigned sworn and armed Dallas or Richardson police officers, present inside secondary schools every school day. These officers are known as school resource officers (SROs), and they provide a variety of functions:

  • Visible deterrents to illegal or unsafe activity.
  • Immediate response to unsafe or criminal activity occurring at a school.
  • Investigation (with school administration and RISD Safety & Security) of all reports potentially impacting school safety.
  • Facilitate campus crime stoppers programs.
  • Build positive relationships with students, staff and community to enhance collective ownership of maintaining a safe school environment.
  • In addition, 14 RISD elementary campuses are also assigned part-time off duty police officers during some school days, and an additional full-time SRO rotates between other elementary campuses. Part time off duty officers provide many of the same functions as an assigned SRO does, including visible deterrence and immediate response to safety issues. In addition to their assigned campus, all SROs and off duty officers are prepared to respond immediately to support neighboring RISD schools if the need arises.
Through agreements with the cities of Dallas and Richardson, sworn, armed peace officers are present each day at every RISD junior high and high school. In addition, 12 RISD elementary campuses in Dallas are assigned part-time off duty police officers during school days, and two more Dallas schools have coverage for part of the week. Elementary campuses are assigned a a daily off duty police officer based on a combination of the school’s physical location in a neighborhood at higher risk of criminal activity and/or the amount of police-related activity that has occurred in the past on or near a campus.

One additional full-time SRO rotates between elementary campuses in the City of Richardson, and one officer rotates between the two Garland elementary schools daily.

The primary purpose of assigning daily peace officers to an elementary campus is to provide a deterrent toward common criminal activity that might impact or target the school such as trespassing, theft, vandalism, prohibited items, etc. While the presence of a police officer at an elementary school can serve as a visible deterrent to gun violence at the school, it is not the primary purpose of the SRO/off duty police officer program.

At the remaining elementary campuses not situated in areas at higher risk of potential criminal activity, RISD relies upon law enforcement partners to provide police services if the need arises. In situations at any campus where RISD or police have reason to believe a threat may exist, additional officers and resources are deployed to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Neither the Texas school funding formula nor the Texas legislature provides funds designated for armed police officers in every school. As such, RISD and trustees must allocate and balance the limited resources available with the daily needs of operating the school district. Funding aside, personnel challenges within the law enforcement sector make it very unlikely that Dallas and/or Richardson would have enough additional sworn officers available to fill daily positions at every RISD elementary campus.

RISD continues to advocate for additional funding that could enhance overall school safety, and parents who would like to see the state prioritize additional funding for school safety are encouraged to contact their legislator.
Only the school board is authorized to enter into an agreement with law enforcement to carry out the duties outlined in Texas Education Code Chapter 37, Subchapter C (Law and Order). The board is responsible for determining the law enforcement duties and jurisdiction of peace officers, school resource officers, and security personnel. These legal requirements are reflected in board policy. Board policy ensures that people who are armed inside a school have training, expertise, and experience related to the use of the firearm, and have training and experience related to threat assessment, de-escalation, and coordination with first responders in the event of a safety emergency.

Separately, the presence of armed third party security at a school is counter to the agreements RISD has in place with the cities of Dallas and Richardson to provide SROs and/or off duty officers at schools during the day.

As referenced in the question about elementary school police officers, RISD assigns officers to elementary schools located in areas at higher-risk of criminal activity. Enacting a policy that would permit campuses not located in higher-risk areas to self-fund private armed security raises questions related to fundamental fairness to campuses that could not afford to privately raise enough funds.

Changing district policy and agreements with current law enforcement could only occur after careful study. Factors associated with permitting armed third party security personnel inside a school relate to liability, required training, expertise, and experience with carrying a firearm in a public environment, and experience and training related to threat assessment, de-escalation, and coordination with first responders in the event of a safety emergency.

RISD continues to advocate for additional funding that could enhance overall school safety, and parents who would like to see the state prioritize additional funding for school safety are encouraged to contact their legislator.

Yes. RISD Safety & Security staff stay abreast of national and Texas best practices in school safety, and periodically requests third-party audits of school security protocols. Each time there is a safety incident at a school nationally, RISD staff work to understand what happened and re-evaluate RISD’s protocols to ensure no gaps exist in RISD’s training, planning, equipment, deterrents, or response. For example, one breakdown in the Uvalde tragedy involved an unlocked exterior door, which is very unlikely in RISD due to automatic locking doors and managed keycard access.

The law enforcement partners serving and protecting RISD schools engage in a similar level of ongoing evaluation to ensure they are fully prepared and have learned from previous events around the country.

It’s important to emphasize that RISD treats school safety and preparation as an ongoing priority throughout each year. It is a priority consideration in all strategic planning and bond planning, and not something that only receives attention after a high profile situation happens elsewhere.

In addition, RISD periodically undergoes safety audits conducted by third parties to ensure campus and district protocols are aligned with best practices. The next audit will be conducted in the first semester of the 2022-23 school year.

RISD maintains a very close working relationship with Dallas, Richardson, and Garland police departments and first responders. The school district is very confident in the police departments’ commitment, preparedness, and ability to respond quickly in the event of a potential threat at a school.

RISD and first responders meet multiple times a year for planning and information sharing, and during the school year the district and first responders work together to address and resolve situations at schools on an ongoing basis.

RISD typically conducts summer training in conjunction with first responders and also partners with responders to provide school settings for police training and drills.

During the school year, RISD works daily with law enforcement to investigate every potential safety issue across the district that is reported or comes to RISD’s attention, whether it’s something posted online, being shared electronically as a rumor, or reported by a student, parent, or staff member.

School safety is something the entire RISD community should feel ownership in. Students, parents, employees, or community members who hear a rumor or come across a social media post or text message that implies a threat to any school or any person in RISD are encouraged to report it in one of these ways:

  • Call 911 if something involves a direct threat to a school or person at school.
  • Call or email the school principal or an assistant principal.
  • Let the campus school resource officer know.
  • Contact RISD Safety & Security at 469-593-0911
  • Use the anonymous reporting app available for any of RISD’s four high schools.

Parents and students are encouraged to report what they see, but not re-post, re-send, or share something they see online or through their phone. Students who re-post or share images of potential threats from others can themselves be investigated and potentially face consequences.

Every single safety-related report that comes to RISD’s attention is investigated by school administrators, RISD Safety & Security, and law enforcement, if appropriate. The overwhelming majority of reports turn out to be not credible threats, but everything is investigated, and students who post threatening images or speech, even when meant as a joke, can face both arrest and significant school discipline.

In true emergencies, including a lockdown, parents should NOT go to a school unless requested by the campus or district administrators.

See the RISD Parent Guide to Emergency Situations for what parents should do and how to stay ready.

Visit this page to learn about each type of safety protocol and what parents can expect.

RISD has protocols in place for virtually all safety-related scenarios, including discovery of both firearms and illegal knives. RISD Safety & Security staff work with schools each summer to review and update campus emergency operations plans, as well as provide training. 

If a weapon is found on campus, administrators and law enforcement partners work immediately to identify and mitigate any potential threat, followed by a thorough investigation that typically results in both criminal justice and disciplinary consequences for all individuals involved.

As administrators and law enforcement are gathering information or working to locate people of interest, a campus may temporarily be placed on a safety protocol to ensure the safety of students and staff inside a building. If this occurs, parents will be notified through RISD’s parent notification system, with a follow-up notification when the situation has been resolved.

RISD’s first priority in any safety situation is to ensure the safety of students and staff, including identification and mitigation of potential threats, followed by communication of accurate information to parents. Parents should NOT go to a school while in a safety protocol such as a secure or lockdown. Parents will NOT be able to enter the school or pick up their child, and their presence may draw critical resources away from efforts to resolve the situation safely. For more information, please see RISD Parent Guide to Emergency Situations.

The district works very closely with law enforcement partners in Dallas, Richardson and Garland. RISD Safety & Security staff also respond to schools with potential safety situations to provide direction and support. Fortunately, a discovery of a firearm inside an RISD school is a very rare occurrence, but it is something school staff, district staff, and police prepare for and immediately respond to if it does happen.

Yes. Under Texas law, school districts must implement a School Safety and Security Committee that must include representation from:

  • City Office of Emergency Management
  • Local Police Departments
  • President of the RISD Board of Trustees
  • Another member of the RISD Board of Trustees
  • RISD Superintendent
  • Designees including a classroom teacher, and parents or guardians of enrolled students