Ensuring Safety & Security

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Back-to-school preparations are underway, and health and safety remain a top priority at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA ISD). With the support of a $8 million grant, PSJA ISD leaders have continued numerous actions and made ongoing investments to ensure school safety is at the forefront during the 2024-2025 school year.

As the second-largest school district in the Rio Grande Valley, serving over 30,000 students and more than 43 campuses, PSJA ISD continues to seek ways to provide safe and secure environments for all students and staff.

Among the latest investments and enhancements are the establishment of a new PSJA ISD School Safety & Security Center in Alamo, the incorporation of the PSJA Guardians, the installation of shatter-resistant window film districtwide, and the implementation of NightLock devices at all campuses. Additionally, PSJA ISD has invested in an advanced weapons detection system through Evolv Express that uses artificial intelligence and sensor technology to detect threats.

According to PSJA ISD Chief of Police Rolando Garcia, these are part of the many efforts taken districtwide to keep schools safer and empower teachers to bring the focus back to education so that learning, development, and the well-being of children are at the center of the school day.

“At PSJA, the safety of our students and staff is our top priority. We exceed typical school district standards by enhancing the training of the PSJA Police and Security Department,” shared PSJA Chief Rolando Garcia. “Our officers engage in continuous training on various topics, including injury response, crisis negotiation and weapons handling, to ensure they are fully prepared for any situation.”

With over 30 years of experience in law enforcement, Chief Garcia helped establish PSJA ISD’s first police department during the 2019-2020 school year, setting a high standard for safety and security within the district.

As part of these efforts, the district opened its first PSJA ISD School Safety & Security Center in Alamo in the spring of 2024, now serving as the new headquarters for the PSJA Police and Security Departments. The facility is equipped with the latest tools and equipment, including a centralized Command Conference Room and a Training Room for the district’s Police & Security staff. The partnership between PSJA and various law enforcement agencies highlights the district’s commitment to comprehensive safety training programs conducted in this new facility.

Launched at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year, the PSJA Guardian Program has significantly strengthened the district’s safety measures by stationing armed, trained officers at all 27 elementary schools to ensure the safety and security of students and staff. These Guardians work closely with the PSJA Police Department, participating in joint operational tactics and planning. They must undergo rigorous psychological evaluations and background checks, obtain licenses to carry certifications, and complete extensive training.

“When PSJA undertakes new initiatives, they are carried out with strategic planning and purpose,” said PSJA Superintendent Dr. Alejandro Elias. “Our commitment to protecting our students and staff is unwavering. They are our priority and we are committed to enhancing safety and security measures at all schools.”

PSJA ISD’s safety arsenal includes NightLock devices on all classroom doors, providing effective barricades during an emergency. Through the latest implementation of shatter-resistant window film at all campus and facility windows, PSJA ISD aims to further delay entry through glass doors and windows, giving law enforcement more time to respond.

“We want our parents to know that when they choose to enroll their children at PSJA ISD, we take that trust very seriously and are doing everything we can to provide safe and secure learning environments,” said Superintendent Dr. Elias.

PSJA ISD is an open enrollment school district welcoming pre-K through 12th grade students living anywhere in the Rio Grande Valley. Registration is still open for the 2024-2025 school year. To learn more, visit psjaisd.us/whypsja.

SCHOOL SAFETY & SECURITY MEASURES
✔ Advanced weapons detection system.
✔ Installing Night Lock devices in the doors of all classrooms districtwide.
✔ Currently in the process of protecting windows and doors of all buildings with shatter-resistant film.
✔ Enhancing Video Surveillance for schools and district facilities; and Districtwide launch of STOPit, an anonymous online reporting tool for students, staff, and parents.
✔ Visitor screening and registration through the Raptor Visitor Management System at all schools.
✔ Campus checks and inspections by PSJA ISD Police K9 Officers.
✔ Adding District Safety & Security Committee that includes tri-city law enforcement representatives, parents, staff, and School Board Members.
✔ Continuing the use of Crisis/Emergency Response Teams at every campus.
✔ Training of staff on campus safety procedures.
✔ Hands-on training for PSJA Police and Security Department officers on numerous topics such as weapons, crisis negotiation, injury response, and active shooter, to name a few.
✔ Increasing the number of PSJA Police Officers.
✔ Scheduling Mandatory Drills.
✔ Districtwide Interior & Exterior Building Safety Audits.
✔ Developing Campus Threat Assessment Teams.
✔ Establishing access control procedures with single access points, locked instruction room doors, and exterior door locks.
✔ Installing Stop the Bleed kits in all classrooms districtwide.

For more information on PSJA ISD’s school safety efforts, visit psjaisd.us/safety.