DNA kits are being sent out to the parents of Texas school students “in case of an emergency.”
In 2021 after a school shooting in Santa Fe that killed eight high school students and two teachers, the Texas state legislature passed Senate Bill 2158. It’s a law requiring the Texas Education Agency to provide “identification kits” to school districts to distribute to parents. The first kits began to go out this week.
The kits include ink-free fingerprinting cards and DNA sampling cards to the parents of all K-6 students. The kits aren’t mandatory, and parents are meant to keep them at home, only turning them over to lawmakers in emergency situations, such as disasters, terrorist attacks, or school shootings. They’re a grim product, and they have many parents concerned.
A year after SB 2158 passed, the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas killed 19 students and 2 teachers. According to family members, the nature of the violence left them unable to identify their own children. DNA kits from family members were used at the time to definitively identify remains. And that, too, is the purpose of these kits.
“You have to understand, I’m a former law enforcement officer,” said one parent of a second grader. “I worry every single day when I send my kid to school. Now we’re giving parents DNA kits so that when their child is killed with the same weapon of war I had when I was in Afghanistan, parents can use them to identify them?”
“This sends two messages: The first is that the government is not going to do anything to solve the problem. This is their way of telling us that,” Walder said, voicing the feeling of many parents. “The second is that us parents are now forced to have conversations with our kids that they may not be emotionally ready for. My daughter is 7. What do I tell her?”
Texas State Senator Donna Campbell, the sponsor of SB-2158, and governor Greg Abbott did not respond to any media requests for comment on the distribution of the kits.