High-Quality Emergency Operations Planning (EOP)
1.1 Legal Requirements & Guidelines
Texas Education Code, Chapter 37
Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code is the most significant of all legislation relating to emergency management for schools. The table below identifies the most significant subchapters of this law.
Chapter 37.108 requires that all school districts develop and implement EOPs that address:
- All four phases of emergency management
- How all staff will be trained in the implementation of the plan
- The number and type of drills and exercises required for instructional and non-instructional facilities
- How the district will assess its facilities to ensure they are providing the safest possible environment for that particular location
Chapter 37.109 states that school districts must form a District Safety and Security Committee. This committee must actively participate on behalf of the district in developing and implementing emergency plans for campuses and other facilities. The committee must also ensure each site emergency plan is consistent with the district EOP and reflects specific campus, facility, or support service needs. The committee participates in the safety audit process by providing campus, facility, and support service information to be used in the audit and by reviewing the district audit report data before it is submitted to the Texas School Safety Center.
Texas Government Code, Chapter 418
This state law identified school districts in Texas as “local governmental entities”. As a local government entity, school districts are automatically included as a part of the Texas statewide mutual aid system, which is established to provide integrated statewide mutual aid response capability between local government entities without a written mutual aid agreement. The law also outlines how requests for assistance can be made by the school district.
Presidential and Homeland Security Policy Directives
Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a number of directives were issued to address emergency management and homeland security issues. The most notable of these are Presidential Policy Directive 8: National Preparedness and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5: Management of Domestic Incidents. Together, these directives shape modern emergency management and response within the United States.
Presidential Policy Directive 8: National Preparedness focused on strengthening the resilience and security of the United States through systematic preparation. The newly established National Preparedness System and the National Preparedness Goal focused on nationwide preparedness for multiple hazards and threats, including acts of terrorism, cyber attacks, pandemics, and catastrophic natural disasters.
Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5: Management of Domestic Incidents enhanced the ability of the nation to manage domestic incidents by establishing a single, comprehensive national incident management system. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) and use of the Incident Command System (ICS) is mandated, by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5, for federal, state, and local government entities.
The legal requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the subsequent statements of the Office of Civil Rights govern how schools address the population of Persons with Access and Functional Needs (PAFNs) when making emergency plans.
Licensure or certification requirements for certain school personnel dictate a specific scope of performance when responding to emergency situations. School nurses, psychologists, athletic trainers, occupational therapists, and others holding state or federal licensure or certification are affected by these requirements.
Federally supported programs, such as after-school care, Title I tutorials, and child care programs, have specific safety assessment and emergency response metrics that must be met. Furthermore, state and federal regulations influence our emergency management planning activities. The lists below depict some of these regulations.
Other Statutes and Regulations:
- Texas Government Code, Chapter 418
- UIL Health and Safety Regulations
- DFPS Daycare/Child care Requirements (during and after school hour programs)
- Good Samaritan Laws
- School District Policies
- Texas Unified School Safety and Security Standards
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of Education; Office of Civil Rights
Lastly, you must consider federal, state, and local regulations as you monitor your district or campus planning process. Designing response and recovery plans that address HIPAA, FERPA, UIL, state health and safety codes for AEDs in school buildings, swimming pool regulations, health department food inspections, local fire and building codes, and chemical delivery and storage regulations is the responsibility of the district and its campuses; therefore, it is essential to ensure an effective planning process is implemented by district employees and other stakeholders who are knowledgeable about the many applicable laws and regulations.
To assist you in gaining a thorough understanding of these laws and regulations, the Texas School Safety Center has developed the School Safety Law Toolkit. This toolkit provides information on a variety of topics that affect schools, including bullying, emergency management, safety and security audits, dating violence, school-based law enforcement, substance abuse, and social/cultural environments.