After Porter shooting scare, Brownsville ISD parent urges live shooting protocols

Sept. 10 — Patricia Valenzuela, a parent representative on a state-mandated school safety committee, stood up at the group’s first meeting to offer comments about Brownsville’s response to a shooting incident that could have happened on the first day to school.

The incident took place Aug. 16 in the parking lot of Porter Early College High School, when Brownsville Independent School District police said they fired a warning shot at a car that flagged down a student who was driving recklessly in the parking lot.

Brownsville school police shoot ‘stolen’ car, arrest three — MyRGV.com

The shooting sent parents into a panic as Porter staff locked down the school per well-established protocols. The car fled along International Boulevard, leading BISD and city of Brownsville police on a chase to Roosevelt Street and McDavitt Avenue, where the driver, a former Porter student, surrendered after a chase, police said.

The car turned out to be stolen the night before, police said. At 11 a.m. the former student, the fired man and a third juvenile suspect were in police custody. Police seized suspected drugs and the two adult suspects were arraigned the next morning, police said.

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On August 25, the BISD Superintendent’s Safety and Security Committee held its first meeting, as required by the Texas Education Agency and the Texas School Safety Center in San Marcos, ordered by Governor Greg Abbott in response to the massacre on August 24. May at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, in which 19 students and two teachers were killed.

At the meeting, Superintendent Rene Gutierrez described how the school security center will conduct in-person random intruder detection checks at BISD schools to assess school security and find weak spots.

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Audits are set to take place at 75 percent of BISD schools this school year, meaning safety center inspectors will visit 40 BISD campuses from Sept. 9 through the end of the year, Gutierrez said.

After Gutierrez and Nellie Cantu, the deputy superintendent for Operations and Operations, provided additional details, Cantu called Valenzuela, a parent from Veterans Memorial Early College High School, to the microphone.

“I just want to say that the first day of class was like a test for everyone,” said Valenzuela, who serves in a dual role as BISD’s Department of Parent and Family Involvement mental health advisor.

“I have to say I think the way the whole school system handled it, the way BISD handled it, I’m speaking as a mom, it was great, it was quick, it was clear, it was open as quickly as you could. to provide the information,” he said.

“But that day, unfortunately, was a huge failure and it was not on your side. The failure came from us parents and the whole community. We were the ones putting our children at risk by the way we handled misinformation, sharing things that weren’t even verified or from any other official source. I was so mad, I have to say, the way parents started sharing videos years ago that didn’t even have anything to do with what was going on,” she said.

Valenzuela said that after Porter was locked in, parents inside began taking video with their cell phones and sharing it on social media, contributing to a sense of panic.

The Brownsville community asks questions about how to proactively keep schools as safe as possible at Hanna Early College High School during a Brownsville Independent School District Town Hall meeting on safety and security in BISD schools Thursday , as the nation grapples with yet another deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

“Parents who were inside the school started filming the lockdowns with the students in the dark and uploading them to social media. We were the ones who failed, and I say that unfortunately, because we don’t have the information and we only have the data that we they make us very scared, so we started running as we say in my hometown ‘gallinias sin cabezas’ just running everywhere, putting the calls on the campus and starting to call our kids who have been instructed by their teachers not to answer the calls, so parents started freaking out even more,” he said.

Valenzuela thanked BISD for requiring her to show identification before she was allowed to park her car on school grounds, saying some parents may not like the requirement, but she does. He also urged BISD to post official information on Facebook about how to respond to any future incidents.

“So I’m going to honestly ask for some official protocols that come from BISD that we can share with parents so we know what to do. For example, I’ve had to do my own homework and I’ve found that services are the worst thing you can do as a parent when you hear there’s an active shooter at your school is you start calling and calling your kid because you’re telling the person your kid is hiding because maybe he forgot to take off his ring or whatever so you’re telling the shooter “here it is, there it is my child. Go ahead. There is someone hiding there. So we’re doing the wrong place,” he said.

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“Honestly, as a parent, representing everyone who was running around like crazy. As long as you put that letter on social media, a lot of people might not have it (the BISD messenger app), but oh boy, everybody has Facebook, even the little ones rural areas areas for BISD, believe me, they do have Facebook, and these people are just waiting to hear from others who aren’t the partner or the fan or whatever to find out what’s going on because they don’t believe the letter, they think you” They are hiding something. They don’t believe the letter because the partner who wasn’t even there was telling the truth because she was sharing a video three years ago,” Valenzuela said, referring to the old video she said was posted during the curfew.

BISD’s Division of Police and Security Services hired Valenzuela at her request, preparing a training program for parents on what to do and what not to do during a lockdown.

BISD Police Sgt. Cindy Paz and Valenzuela introduced the workout Wednesday in Porter Auditorium. The training will be presented again from 9:30 to 11:30 am. on Sept. 20 at the Hanna Early College High School Fine Arts Auditorium and again that evening virtually.

Rosalva Larisquitu, who leads the Department of Parent and Family Affairs, said with all the uproar after Uvalde, it may seem like BISD is just now taking steps to prepare in the event of a school shooting.

Exactly the opposite is true. For years, the Department of Police and Security Services has organized police parent schools to engage parents in school safety issues. Also, BISD police have a long-standing cooperative relationship with Brownsville City Police and other Cameron County law enforcement agencies.

The Superintendent’s Safety and Security Committee must meet three times a year under Abbott’s mandates, which apply to all public and charter schools in the state, including requiring random intruder detection checks.

BISD committee members include Gutierrez, BISD Board President Eddie Garcia, BISD Police Chief Oscar Garcia, BISD Board Member Denise Garza, Paz, Hodie Ann Leal, Rene Tavarez from the city, Brownsville Police Chief Felix Sauceda, BISD Principal Alma Salazar, parent representatives Maria Perez and Valenzuela, Cantu, the deputy superintendent, and Brownsville Police Cmdr. Kirk Massey.

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