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Texas School Safety Center: Director 'misspoke' during interview about random school intruder audits

The state is supposed to visit 6,000 campuses by the end of May under Gov. Greg Abbott's directive.

HOUSTON — The agency in charge of implementing surprise security inspections at Texas schools is changing its story about how many have been completed statewide.

After the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Texas School Safety Center to find weak points at schools and monitor corrective actions. They’re known as "random intruder detection audits" and involve unannounced campus visits by state inspectors to see how often they can gain authorized access through unsecured doors.

The target goal of the program is to complete more than 6,000 intruder detection audits by the end of May. But two weeks ago, the program’s director shared numbers showing the state had fallen behind at the midpoint of the school year.

“We have almost completed about 1,000 intruder detection audits across the state,” Texas School Safety Center Director Kathy Martinez-Prather said during a Jan. 13 interview.

Martinez-Prather repeated the statistic more than once during the interview and acknowledged the need to pick up the pace.

“So, as I mentioned, we've done almost, about 1,000 intruder detection audits," Martinez-Prather said.

Here's how the discussion went:

KHOU 11 News: “We’re kind of at the halfway point in this, but you’re not at the halfway point of visiting campuses?”

Martinez-Prather: “Um, so we’re ... if we have to pick up the number of intruder detection audits we’re doing across the state, we’re closely monitoring that on a weekly basis.”

After our story aired, a spokesperson for Texas State University emailed KHOU 11 Investigates stating “it appears that (Martinez-Prather) misspoke during your interview. She intended to say about 3,000 campus audits had been completed.”

Since the email, the safety center released a report with new numbers that 2,864 campuses were audited between September and December 2022.

KHOU 11 Investigates requested another interview with Martinez-Prather to further explain the discrepancy, but a spokesperson said “she is unable to accommodate your request.” We also asked the safety center to prove its new numbers with a list of inspection dates and districts visited. KHOU 11 Investigates did not request the names of specific campuses audited as that information is confidential under Texas law for security reasons.

The Texas School Safety Center has not produced such a list.

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