Former U.S. Secret Service agent John P. Scott was appointed as the Texas Education Agency's (TEA) first chief of school safety and security on Monday by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Abbott created the position after the elementary school shooting in May in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
"Both as Commissioner of Education, and as a dad, I recognize our schools must be safe for students to learn and grow," TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said in a press release from Abbott's office. "TEA's new Chief of School Safety and Security, John Scott, brings incredible security expertise to the role. We are grateful for Gov. Abbott's leadership on this critical issue."
Scott previously served as Special Agent in the Vice Presidential Protective Division and Dignitary Protective Division in Washington, D.C., according to the release. More recently, Scott served as Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Secret Service Dallas/North Texas District.
"I plan to work closely with partner agencies and school systems across the state to keep our students and staff safe," Scott said of his new role, which began Monday.
Abbott directed the state's education agency to create the position in June, two weeks after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, according to The Texas Tribune.
The press release listed additional actions the governor has taken to increase security since the Uvalde shooting, including providing $105.5 million to "enhance school safety and mental health services" in Uvalde and throughout Texas.
Since the May shooting, the parents of Uvalde victims have called for the age to buy semi-automatic rifles to be raised from 18 to 21. The Uvalde gunman legally bought two AR-15-style rifles shortly after he turned 18 in May, according to ABC 7.
Citing a federal ruling that Texas cannot prohibit 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying handguns, Abbott said in August that it would be "unconstitutional" to change the age minimum.
Texas has since appealed the ruling, according to the Tribune, but Abbott has not indicated whether a successful appeal would change his position.
According to the news outlet, Uvalde families publicly endorsed Beto O'Rourke, who is running against Abbott in November, hours before the two candidates met for their only debate on Friday.
O'Rourke reportedly said during the debate that he would work to raise the age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles to 21 if elected, in addition to supporting universal background checks and red flag laws.
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