After Friday’s deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School, Gov. Greg Abbott promised action on gun violence in schools, starting with a series of roundtable discussions. The first one is Tuesday at the state Capitol. One of the leaders invited to the event is Ray High School principal Dr. Cissy Reynolds-Perez.
"Literally, their lives — our lives — are at stake. And I want to make sure that we do everything we can to try to find some sort of a solution to this," she told KRIS 6 News.
Dr. Reynolds-Perez is one of the top education officials invited to Tuesday’s roundtable. She will be the principal representative but says she plans on speaking up for everyone during the event.
"I want to take my letters that my students wrote right after the Parkland shooting and make sure that we can try to give a voice to all the stakeholders — principals, teachers — everyone who’s living this right now," she explained.
She believes a big part of the discussion involves tackling behavior problems at the elementary level. In order to do that, Dr. Reynolds-Perez says the state has to address student-teacher ratios at our schools.
Speaking about counseling, she said, "Students really feel like they need somebody to talk to during times of stress. Unfortunately, with the staffing ratios the way they are, like in the state of Texas, we could have one counselor for 700 elementary students."
"Our secondary teachers — it’s one teacher for every 50 students because they have 30 students a class period. So, you know, in order for us to really get to know our children and make an impact, I believe staffing ratios is key."
Dr. Reynolds-Perez also hopes, at some point, gun rights groups can help prevent school shootings. She likened their potential impact to that of the tobacco industry after it started advertising the harmful effects of cigarettes. Since then, smoking rates have declined.
"Maybe the NRA can help donate money for metal detectors or for mental health education or for staffing ratios or for more police or just more resources."
In the end, Dr. Reynolds-Perez says she’s honored to be a part of the discussion. When asked about her invitation, she said, "I take it very, very seriously, and I hope that this is just the first step in finding a solution."
Dr. Reynolds-Perez also serves on the Texas School Safety Center Board of Directors. This is her second year being appointed to that board.