After months of searching for an expert to fill a new position that grew in significance after the Uvalde massacre, a San Antonio school district has hired a former U.S. Secret Service agent to oversee its safety and security. 

North East ISD on Monday announced Paul Duran, special agent for the San Antonio Secret Service Field Office, will be the district’s first senior director of safety and security.

NEISD was already looking at ways to enhance security before Uvalde, a spokeswoman for the district said. There were already protocols in place, but Superintendent Sean Maika wanted someone who “could really focus on not letting the event happen in the first place,” she said.

When he assumes the role on Oct. 3, Duran, who is already based in San Antonio, will provide strategic direction and leadership for the administration, coordinating the district’s safety and security program. 

He will develop, establish and enforce safety and security policies and procedures, conduct threat assessments and train staff to de-escalate situations, according to the district, which said Duran will work closely with the district’s police department and risk management office.

Duran’s final post with the Secret Service was as the special agent in charge of the agency’s San Antonio field office, according to NEISD, overseeing all Secret Service operations in South and Southwest Texas.

Duran said in a statement released Monday that he will focus on a comprehensive approach to school security that goes beyond physical protection to include preventative measures, like boosting mental health support, anti-bullying programs and school culture, he said.

In a press release announcing Duran’s hire, NEISD said under former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Duran served on the Secret Service’s Presidential Protection Division, as part of the team that designed and implemented security plans for domestic and foreign travel for the presidents, their families and other top officials. He also spent several years as team leader of the Secret Service Counter Assault Team, which provides tactical support of protective details and events. 

The district said Duran’s work has involved threat management, behavioral threat assessments and prevention of targeted violence.

Maika said the district appreciates Duran’s dedication to the Secret Service and looks forward to what his decades of expertise can bring to student safety.

In a statement, Duran said cooperation and collaboration is essential to protective responsibilities: “Keeping schools safe is advanced by team efforts and the combined resources of various stakeholders.”

“My role is to help all of those stakeholders provide the safest environment possible to help the district achieve its goal of academic excellence and responsible citizenship,” Duran’s statement continued. “Our district is invested and proactive in providing safe schools for student learning.”

Raquel Torres is the San Antonio Report's breaking news reporter. A 2020 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, her work has been recognized by the Texas Managing Editors. She previously worked...