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State legislature missed opportunities to improve child well-being; 2020 census is our state's next big test  AUSTIN, Texas — Texas ranks 41st in child well-being — one of the 10 worst states for kids — according to the 2019 KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. For 30 years, this annual report has highlighted which states have better outcomes for their kids.  This year, the report also focuses on the critical role of the upcoming 2020 census, which will allocate billions of dollars for health care, housing and food programs that Texas kids and families count on. Given that Texas has added nearly 2.5 million kids since these reports began — accounting for more than a quarter of the national increase — the wellbeing of Texas’ nearly 7.4 million children truly does drive the overall wellbeing of US children as a whole. view article arw

Starting this fall, elementary school students in Frisco ISD will have more time to play during school.  The district experimented with "brain breaks" at five schools last year and found kids performed better in class.  Frisco ISD said it surveyed parents, teachers and students at the five schools and found:  72 percent of teachers say students were better able to focus after a transition from free play view article arw

While noting some improvements needed, retired superintendent Don Newsom gave his unique stamp of approval in his report on the safety and security audit he performed in Decatur ISD this spring. “I go home and my wife asks me about Decatur ISD, and I say, ‘I wouldn’t mind if our grandkids went to school there because I know they would be safe,'” Newsom said. “You’re way up on the curve.” view article arw

Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 18, an omnibus bill meant to get more mental health services to students in Texas public schools. Amarillo Republican Representative Four Price and Austin Democratic Senator Kirk Watson shepherded the bill through the legislature. It would require school districts to offer mental health and suicide prevention curricula if they do the same with physical health.  view article arw

A former Coppell ISD middle school teacher accused of inappropriate behavior with a student has been indicted on three charges, according to the Dallas County district attorney's office. view article arw

The Goliad Independent School District is making some changes to their campuses for this upcoming school year. Goliad ISD says the increasing number vaping and bullying instances has led them to take preventative measures. view article arw

LA VERNIA, Texas - Four former La Vernia High School students previously charged with sexual assault in connection with an athletics hazing scandal exposed in 2017 have now been indicted on new charges more than two years later.  Alejandro Ibarra, Colton Weidner, Christian Roberts and Dustin Norman were indicted Friday by a grand jury in Wilson County on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity, a spokeswoman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton confirmed via phone Tuesday morning. view article arw

The father of a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has won a defamation lawsuit against the authors of a book that claimed the shooting never happened — the latest victory for victims’ relatives who have been taking a more aggressive stance against conspiracy theorists. The book, “Nobody Died at Sandy Hook,” has also been pulled to settle claims against its publisher filed by Lenny Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was killed in the shooting. view article arw

While Texas children are getting better access to health care and showing improved education outcomes, they still lag behind the majority of the nation’s kids, especially in measures of poverty, according to a new report released Monday. The Annie E. Casey Foundation‘s 2019 Kids Count Data Book, a state-by-state effort to track the status of children in the United States, ranks Texas 41st in overall child well-being based on measures of health, education, and economic well-being. That’s up from 43rd in 2018. The report showed a slight decline in the number of children living in poverty from 22 percent in 2018 to 21 percent, which remains above the national average of 18 percent. The top-performing state, New Hampshire, has only 10 percent of its children living in poverty. view article arw

A Tyler nonprofit is taking major steps toward curbing suicide and mental health crises among students in East Texas. Recent studies have shown that Smith County has the highest suicide rate of the state’s 25 largest counties. Next Step Community Solutions will launch a new program this fall that will help create a peer support network for students through an evidence-based suicide prevention program. They plan to pilot the program at Robert E. Lee High School and a second, as yet undecided school in East Texas. Sources of Strength relies on peer networks building support and sharing resources, rather than taking a reactionary approach. view article arw

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has approved a spending bill that includes a $1 million public safety campaign for firearm storage. The Republican signed a $250 billion two-year budget Saturday without any line-item vetoes. It includes money for the Texas Department of Public Safety to promote a safe gun storage campaign. view article arw

As measles cases hit a 25-year high in the United States, Texas medical experts fear the state could see the next outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease. Texas has reported 15 confirmed cases of measles so far in 2019, six more than in all of 2018.  Health officials are watching pockets of Texas closely because of the number of parents requesting exemptions under Texas’s broad vaccine exemption law. Texas is one of 16 states that allow parents to bypass vaccine requirements for enrolling their kids in school by claiming a conscientious exemption, along with citing medical or religious concerns. Just last month, Washington ended conscientious exemptions on the heels of a large measles outbreak with over 70 reported cases. Three states — California, West Virginia and Mississippi — only allow medical exemptions. view article arw

Southside Independent School District officials hope that, by fall, district students won’t have to miss much class time due to minor injuries and ailments. view article arw

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The battle to contain the worst U.S. measles outbreak in 27 yearshas a new front: summer camp.  Vaccinations have been made mandatory this summer for campers and staff in several counties north of New York City that annually fill up with kids from the Orthodox Jewish communities that have been hit hardest by measles.  Ulster County took the extra step of mandating the measles vaccine or proof of immunity at all day camps and overnight camps, becoming the latest county in the area to issue immunization requirements. Rockland County announced a similar order this month, following mandates from Sullivan and Orange counties. view article arw

On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed three pieces of legislation into law, all designed to increase safety in public schools. Abbott signed Senate Bill 11, authored by State Sen. Larry Taylor, as well as House Bill 18 and House Bill 1387. SB 11 is a landmark bill that will in part assist school districts in hardening their infrastructure, identifying and addressing the mental health needs of their students, and developing plans to handle emergencies or threats on campus. SB 11 offers a grant for one-time school hardening and creates a school safety financial allotment for schools to address ongoing safety expenses.  view article arw

It took a palm reader and at least a year for Holly Doggett to even begin to move forward after her nephew killed himself in 1991. She blamed herself, like many suicide survivors do. She still does, 28 years later. view article arw

Northside ISD launched an important new safety campaign Friday to help students combat active shooting situations. Modeled after a nationally recognized program that is approved by the Department of Homeland Security, the Run Hide Fight campaign is the focus of a locally-produced video that features district students responding to a dangerous situation in a school. view article arw

The Klein ISD Police Department and staff formed the Leadership Academy in 2015 to positively influence the relationship between the school district police force and students. Now, the program is getting statewide attention from other Texas school districts and law enforcement organizations. Klein ISD police officers, Sgt. Natalie Van Der Dys and Officer Christi Haggard, delivered a presentation about the program during the 2019 Regional School Safety Summit — a two-day conference held in Houston June 10 and 11. view article arw

A new law signed by Governor Abbott will benefit students across Texas who deal with epilepsy or seizures of other sorts. Sam’s Law requires Texas public school employees to be trained in seizure recognition and seizure response. “I would just have seizures randomly all the time,” said Makayla Benkula, a high school senior who suffers from epilepsy. “I would go to school and have seizures and my teachers would think I was acting out and I was a behavioral student and I was just being a bad student overall." view article arw

AUSTIN — Abstinence has long been the backbone of sex education in Texas, but this summer state officials are suggesting teachers should also be having conversations with children about contraceptives, sexual and gender identity, and how to say no. view article arw

School safety measures are starting to expand from physical security to improving the mental health of students. That is evidenced by Gov. Abbott signing House Bill 18 into law. It will increase funding, training, and access to mental health programs in school districts across the state. Lubbock-Cooper ISD Assistant Superintendent Macy Satterwhite said its approach to school safety is not just about hardening facilities, but it is also the softening part of it.  view article arw

The Victoria Independent School District announced Monday, they will implement a new clear bag policy for all athletic facilities. Starting with the 2019-2020 season, spectators can only bring clear bags that do not exceed 12 inches (30.48 cm) by 6 inches (15.24 cm) by 12 inches (30.48 cm).  view article arw

Tyler ISD will see a net gain of about $7.5 million in annual funding for the coming year, money that will go toward full day pre-K, teacher pay and school security, among other things. Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed into law HB3, the school finance bill that will see districts receiving an increase of about 20 percent in average daily attendance (ADA) funding to help accomplish many of the state-mandated changes. Districts will have to carve out 30 percent of that increase for raises, and 75 percent of the allocation for raises must go to teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians, according to Texas Education Agency data. The remainder is set aside to be used for raises at the district’s discretion. view article arw

A 6-year-old boy who was hit by an 18-wheeler earlier this week after stepping off a school bus on U.S. 290 was being released from the hospital Wednesday, Elgin school district officials said, as authorities continue to investigate the incident. view article arw

Last week, Texas governor Greg Abbott signed into law several measures meant to magnify school security and one of them included allowing as many armed teachers in schools and classrooms as local officials see fit. The law was a response to the tragic Santa Fe High School shooting that happened in 2018 near Houston where a student shot and killed eight students, two substitute teachers and ended up injuring 13 others.  The HB 1387, although meant well, will not solve the problem of school shootings, say experts and parents but instead will be a cause of greater concern. It is neither a quick fix and nor a deterrent but just really bad policy, they say, putting children’s lives at increased risk.  view article arw

Thursday was the last day of school at Oak Park’s Beye Elementary, and 6-year-old Matias Best didn’t want to go. Matias is on the autism spectrum, and transitions can be a challenge. Transitioning from the school year to summer break felt a little daunting that day, and so, he declared, he would not be going. view article arw

As measles cases hit a 25-year high in the United States, Texas medical experts fear the state could see the next outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease. Texas has reported 15 confirmed cases of measles so far in 2019, six more than in all of 2018. Health officials are watching pockets of Texas closely because of the number of parents requesting exemptions under Texas’s broad vaccine exemption law. Texas is one of 16 states that allow parents to bypass vaccine requirements for enrolling their kids in school by claiming a conscientious exemption, along with citing medical or religious concerns. Just last month, Washington ended conscientious exemptions on the heels of a large measles outbreak with over 70 reported cases. Three states — California, West Virginia and Mississippi — only allow medical exemptions. view article arw

Students, teachers and people who live on the South Side will now have a new place to get medical treatment. The Susan Hall Community Health Clinic will offer treatment to the district's 6,000 children, teachers and community. Research shows that school-based health clinics increase school attendance, offer services that support at-risk youth and reduce emergency room visits. view article arw

Those who plan to attend athletic events at the Victoria school district will need to follow a new bag policy, according to a VISD news release. The Victoria school district announced Monday that beginning with the 2019-2020 school year and athletic season, only clear bags and one non-clear bag smaller than 5½ inches by 8½ inches in size will be allowed in district facilities. The policy is not a response to any specific event or concern but an effort by the school district to improve safety standards for students, parents and the community, according to the news release. view article arw

An Elgin ISD student was hit by a big rig Tuesday evening while exiting a bus. It happened near the intersection of FM 696 and Hwy 290, just southeast of Elgin. According to an Elgin ISD spokesperson, the bus had pulled over at a regular stop along it route. As an elementary age student was getting out, they were struck by an 18-wheeler. view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday signed several bills addressing the recent rise in school shootings. While much of the attention on this legislation has been directed toward provisions allowing school teachers and staff to carry firearms, perhaps the most promising features are calls for better screening and treatment for mental health issues on school campuses. Less than a year after eight students and two teachers were killed at Santa Fe High School near Houston, the Texas Legislature passed several bills relating to campus security. Abbott signed three of them Thursday. Senate Bill 11, co-sponsored by Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, seeks to improve emergency preparedness and response. In addition to providing for improved safety hardware such as metal detectors, reinforced doors and alarm systems, it also calls for training to better identify possible threats. Schools can now allow teachers and other personnel to carry firearms, provided they complete police-type courses that include weapons proficiency and quick-response active shooter training. view article arw

Boy charged with making threat

June 1108:25 AM

A fifth-grade boy attending summer school at Bowie Middle School was charged Monday with threat of exhibition of a firearm on school property, a class A misdemeanor. A news release from Ector County ISD said the boy told several students he was going to bring a gun to school and shoot students. view article arw

Vaccination exemptions for conscientious reasons continue rising in Frisco as a growing number of measles cases emerge across the country. The exemption rate for Frisco ISD has increased from 1.52% to 2.4% since the 2012-13 school year, whereas the rates for Leadership Prep School and Legacy Christian Academy have grown to 5.8% and 6.4%, respectively. Schools are not required to report which vaccines students are opting not to receive. Nationwide, the 940 reported cases of the measles this year through May 24 is the largest number since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared the disease eradicated in 2000 in the United States. view article arw

Authorities plan a large-scale school safety exercise involving 11 districts in Ohio. The Butler County Educational Service Center in southwestern Ohio says nearly 200 students and adults will take part June 18 in the simulation of an active shooter at a board meeting on the Ross Local School District's high school and middle school campus. view article arw

Although Jeff McNair is familiar with the city of Riesel and law enforcement, he knows stepping into a new role as Riesel Independent School District’s first police officer will be an exciting transition. “Every day is going to be different. … There is never a dull moment and it is never the same thing again,” McNair said. “Whatever comes your way at the drop of a hat, you have to deal with it.” McNair, 46, has started as Riesel ISD’s first director of school safety, moving from a job as assistant chief for the Dallas County Marshal Service. His father grew up in Riesel and several of his family members live in Riesel, so his move to the city is a bit of a homecoming, he said. view article arw