AUSTIN, Texas (KLTV) - Three years after her daughter’s death from complications following a seizure, an East Texas mother’s journey to better prepare educators for the eventuality came full circle as she watched Gov. Greg Abbott sign a bill in honor of her daughter.
House Bill 684, better known as Sam’s Law, was signed into law on Tuesday after passing through the Texas House and Senate with little opposition.
Sam’s Law was named after Kilgore student Samantha “Sam” Watkins, who died in December 2016 after having a seizure. Since her death, Sam’s mother Barbara has rallied for change in Texas public schools. Tuesday’s passage means public schools will become ‘seizure smart schools', with the goal of having all public school employees in the state trained in seizure recognition and response. The free training will be provided by the Epilepsy Foundation.
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.
Samantha’s mother was in Austin on Tuesday to witness Gov. Abbott signing Sam’s Law into effect. Barbara said she had no clue how she would respond after the fact, but leading up the moment, she was full of nervous excitement.
“I just want to tell her her legacy continues, and I’m just really proud of her still,” Watkins said of her daughter. “I’m just curious what she has next for me, what’s next, because I know there’s going to be something else waiting down the road. And, I will honor her until the day I die.
“I just wanted her to know she had a part in this, and it’s just awesome," Watkins added.