What Is More Important Than Student Safety?

editorial-logo3Question of the week-what is more important than student safety? The answer should be nothing but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Last week, two prisoners who were working at White Pine School managed to escape in a Department of Education vehicle and the school did not go on lock down. Please explain that to me because I must be getting a little addled. I thought that lock downs were instituted to insure student safety. If an irate parent comes to the school the school goes on lock down. Someone finds a note scribbled with a list of student names-lock down. A kid seizures during a drill-lock down. But, two prisoners have escaped and their where abouts are unknown and the decision is made to NOT go on lock down. If two prisoners escaped and ran through your yard and you had no idea where they were headed, would you not do a head count of your family members? Especially your children?

It begs the question who made the decision and what rational was used? Prison labor being used in schools, especially when kids are around, has become more and more unpopular among parents and questions were asked about this very issue during a recent forum on school safety. More than one parent contended that their students had contact with prisoners. What most parents don’t know is that the Sheriff only allows the prison labor. It is requested by the school system and it is school system employees that are charged with over seeing the prisoners. Are these employees trained for such duties? Where does the buck ultimately stop? With the hourly employee that is in over their heads? With the Maintenance Director who requests the use of prison labor or with the Director of Schools who is certainly not on site? Someone has to be responsible for our children and teachers and staff but just who is that someone in the Department of Education? And was it that someone who determined that it wasn’t worth calling for a lock down when two of their inmates were unaccounted for and presumed to have escaped?

Bad decisions were made all around. Prisoners should not be on school grounds, they are a safety hazard. If prisoners are on school grounds, they should not be supervised by school system employees. And, if prisoners are on school grounds and if they are unaccounted for, the school should certainly be on lock down.

It is my hope that the lack of action to insure that all students and staff were safe was just bad decision making and not an attempt to keep the lid on a situation that they already knew would draw the ire of parents. As for who made the decision? We may never really know. The horse is already out of the barn on this one and while parents and the community deserve an answer, I suspect that they will toss it around like a hot potato until another issues arises that draws the attention elsewhere. We scooted by this time. There could have been a student or teacher or staff member in that stolen truck that was taken for assurance, a little collateral for a clear escape or something even more malicious. Parents should demand answers. The School Board should demand answers and the County Commission should demand answers. This is just too important to ignore.

Jefferson Farmers Co-op 08112014