How Safe are Jefferson County Schools?

How safe are Jefferson County Schools? For many parents, this is the question that plagues them, especially when incidents happen that make it impossible to ignore the fact that school safety presents a modern day quagmire that simply did not exist thirty years ago. While statically more than 95% of the schools nationwide have instituted some form of safety measures that range from School Safety Officers to metal detectors, even the heightened awareness does not appear to be enough when often the perpetrator of school crimes are the students themselves. It is difficult enough to control outside forces with criminal intent, but it becomes all that more difficult when safety planning must take into account the unthinkable – that someone already on the inside could be the one carrying out a horrific crime.

While there are multiple components to school safety, communication and response time are pivotal when an incident occurs. Local schools officials and emergency personnel are connected by an app that may lessen the time it takes to get the necessary people accurate information when there is a breach in school safety. Additionally, Jefferson County Schools all have School Safety Officers that are housed in the schools and lock down procedures that are designed to keep students and staff as safe as possible if a situation does arise. Is this enough? How does it keep my child safe, and what assurances do I have that the schools are doing everything possible?

It is these questions, and others that may be more specific, that parents are looking for answers to, and the Jefferson County Department of Education and Jefferson County School Board are interested in sharing concerns and looking for solutions. To that end, there will be a forum held Tuesday evening and presentations will be made concerning school safety. School Board Member Denise Fair has taken a special interest in school safety, largely because, as a parent of six school age children, she shares the concern of other parents who want some assurance that no stone is left unturned when it comes to the safety of their children. Board Member Fair, who also works at Jefferson County E911, has some ideas when it comes to improvements that could be made, and some are relatively simple. She would like to see a larger SRO presence during key hours when the school is the most accessible to the outside, like early morning arrival and afternoon dismissal times where some SRO officers are utilized to control traffic coming into the school. She also believes that finding an experienced officer to serve as SRO increases the chances that they will be effective in an emergency situation and, while not every officer is a good fit for the position of SRO, those that have a good relationship with students can ideally identify situations before they become tragic. Fair contends that school safety is complex and the issue deserves to be at the forefront of conversation between parents and the school system.

Jefferson County Schools will provide a public forum on school safety on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 6:30 pm in the James D. Swann Performing Arts Center at Jefferson County High School Main Campus. Parents of all school age students are encouraged to attend this forum to discuss the issue of school safety. In addition to school system staff, members of the Jefferson County School Board will be on hand to participate in the forum. The public forum was planned by the Jefferson County Department of Education and it has the support of the Jefferson County School Board. Fair said that she is hopeful that attendance will be strong for the forum and that parents will take the opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns and ideas on the subject. Fair said, “I understand parents’ concern. When I drop my children off at school in the morning I tell them that I love them and to be aware of their surroundings. It is a part of our morning routine.”

Source: K. Depew, News Director

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