The measure the Senate passed on Monday would establish an independent ombudsman to perform audits and investigate injuries and deaths, according to the Dallas Morning News. The ombudsman would also oversee an abuse and neglect telephone hotline. The bill would install security cameras across Texas’ 13 institutions for the disabled, and require fingerprinting, background checks and random drug testing of all state school employees.
“The abuse and neglect that has occurred in our state schools is inexcusable,” said Sen. Jane Nelson, the Flower Mound Republican who authored the bill. “These are people with serious disabilities. They need our protection.”
The bill is a response to growing concerns about the safety and conditions inside the state schools. It does not address the debate in the advocacy community over whether to shutter some of the state schools in favor of more community-based care – an issue that is being tackled in another bill. Nor does the bill, which comes with a $15 million price tag, boost employee salaries or provide funding for training, a point of issue for some.