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Approximately 3.8 million students in Texas are expected to bring home a kit, ABC13 reported, with some schools set to begin distributing them as early as this week.
The decision comes following Senate Bill 2158 (pdf) that was passed by the Texas state Legislature in spring 2021 and which requires the Texas Education Agency to “provide identification kits to school districts and open-enrollment charter schools for distribution to the parent or legal custodian of certain students.”
According to the bill, the agency should provide inkless DNA kits that can be carried out at home and only at the request of the parent or legal custodian of any kindergarten, elementary, or middle school student.
The kits will enable parents or guardians to hold onto their child’s DNA and fingerprint information at home and then provide it to law enforcement agencies in an emergency situation, such as a shooting.
The kits are not mandatory, meaning parents can decline them.
The legislation states that the kits are intended for parents to submit DNA results to “federal, state, tribal, or local law enforcement to help locate and return a missing or trafficked child.”
Kits Help Locate Missing Children
Texas lawmakers passed the bill after eight students and two teachers were shot and killed at a Santa Fe, Texas, high school by 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis in May 2018.
However, the rollout of the kits also comes in the wake of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, earlier this year which claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers.
Many of the bodies of the children who were shot inside Robb Elementary School were not easily identifiable because of their catastrophic injuries, and in some cases their families were asked to provide DNA swabs to help identify the children’s remains.
The kits will start being distributed this week in the Houston Independent School District, the largest in the state, with a number of other districts including Clear Creek ISD already informing parents that they are available, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke took aim at the kit distribution plan and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Twitter on Oct. 17.
“This is Greg Abbott’s Texas,” O’Rourke wrote. “More school shootings than any other state on his watch but no action to prevent the next. We will not allow this to be our future. We will keep our kids safe.”
However, the office of state Sen. Donna Campbell, a Republican and the bill’s sponsor, told ABC13 that the kits are meant for parents to use if a child goes missing.
The Epoch Times has contacted Abbott’s office for comment.
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