Sam’s Law passes senate, brings positive reactions

Sam’s Law passes senate and brings positive reactions

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A bill named after an East Texas student has now passed the senate and is on its way to the governor’s desk.

Sam’s Law, a seizure recognition bill for Texas teachers, is named after Samantha Watkins.

She was a Kilgore high school student who died after complications from a seizure in December of 2016.

Since then, her mother and others from East Texas have been fighting for a law to help students in Texas.

“I can not even wrap my head around the fact that that many children can be helped from my daughters legacy," said Barbara Watkins, Sam’s mother. "From our tragedy, this many children can go to school and feel safe."

Although she never doubted it would become a bill, Watkins said she’s still trying to grasp that it’s almost a reality.

“It’s just crazy that her legacy can mean this much and I guess I haven’t wrapped my brain around it just yet,” said Watkins.

The Region Seven Education Service Center — which serves 102 school districts and charters throughout East Texas — plans to be a bridge between the law and the teachers and students it will eventually help, according to Sherri Wright, the coordinator for federal programs.

At the upcoming school nurses’ conference — hosted by Region Seven, UT Health East Texas and UT Health Science Center — Wright said they hope to have a video from Barbara Watkins and Shari Dudo (the driving force behind the bill) explaining it’s importance.

Wright said they’re also bringing in a medical professional.

“We are ensuring that we have someone there, a physician, to talk about seizures and to give clarifying information, helpful information to the school nurses," said Wright.

Wright said she can recall a certain moment in high school, more than almost any other, because of a seizure.

“You know, in high school, you don’t remember much of what happened, but I vividly remember where I was sitting in the gym seats," said Wright. “I remember where the young man was that fell and he had this seizure. That’s so vivid in my memory.”

She said the personal memory helped her connect to the new law.

“It’s going to help all educators to know exactly what to do to support students regardless if they’re in the classroom, the gym, the cafeteria; wherever they are,” said Wright. “Even the school bus... they will know exactly what to do to support that student and help them safely make it through the seizure.”

Watkins said she’s proud of the role her daughter played in making this possible, saying she was always dropping things to help others.

“I can’t wait for what’s next,” said Watkins. “I know she’ll have something planned for me down the road.”

The bill passed through both chambers of congress unanimously and now awaits the signature of Governor Abott to officially become a law.

Copyright 2019 KLTV. All rights reserved.