KILGORE — Kilgore ISD board members discussed “Sam’s Law,” a Texas House bill intended to improve seizure response training in Texas schools, at Monday night’s meeting.
Superintendent Andy Baker said he recently had learned about the bill when he moved to Kilgore in January.
“This was new to me,” Baker said. “As I understand it right now, Sam’s Law is a bill that has been filed; it’s not a law yet. About two years ago, we had one of our high school kiddos pass away after going through a seizure.
“What Sam’s Law is, in memory of her, it’s the idea of the state coming in and making a law that would require different things, such as requiring school personnel to be trained on the signs of a possible epileptic seizure, possible first aid if you encounter another student or a staff member who is having a seizure and how you can best help them. The idea behind Sam’s Law is to put this into state law to require schools to annually go through these types of training for our staff members and for our kids.”
House Bill 684, also known as Sam’s Law, was filed in the Texas House of Representatives by state Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, on Jan. 8, the first day of the 86th Legislature.
The bill is dedicated in memory of Samantha Watkins, a Kilgore High School student who died in December 2016 after experiencing a seizure only a short time after being diagnosed with epilepsy.
A written statement from Clardy posted to the House of Representatives’ website states the bill will aim to improve seizure recognition and treatment in Texas schools.
“HB 684 calls for the implementation of a seizure action plan that would ensure public school nurses and other school employees are prepared to support students who have a history of epileptic seizures and to provide aid to students who experience seizures at school,” the statement reads.
Baker said he had a meeting with a Texas Epilepsy Center representative last week to get up to speed on the progress of the bill.
“Right now, it’s been filed on the House side. Last time I spoke to them, they were still looking for some Senate support. Right now, it’s in its fledgling stages but this is something that our Legislature will be discussing this year and could be something that comes out to start next school year,” Baker said.
Board members said additional training for improved seizure response at the district is a good idea whether or not HB 684 is passed.
“So if they don’t pass this bill, I think it would still be a good idea for us to go to the forefront and start and have this program at KISD,” Position 6 trustee Joe Parker said.
Baker agreed but said it would take time to get a recommendation on the best type of training to use.
“What we’re kind of waiting for is, right now, the bill doesn’t outline what would be the best training. When I was talking to the (Texas Epilepsy) Center, about what could this entail, they don’t know that yet. At this time, they’re still trying to put together the recommendation of what that training would consist of.”
Baker said the training could take several forms. He said the Region 7 Education Service Center is working on a way to add seizure response training to its online offerings.
“If it could save one life, it’s worth every penny,” Parker said.