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TC Palm Editorial - March 3, 2018

School Board Statement - February 27, 2018

  

Thank you for the Safety update from Dr. Rendell. 


I was happy to hear that Safety Walks were done. That was something I felt we needed to do. Taking a look at the natural access control in our schools is paramount to protecting our staff.

I look forward to hearing about the changes made to the capital improvement plan for security measures. I understand there are still projects on the table that have yet to be funded and now we are adding more. 


The past couple of weeks I have been doing a lot of research on safe schools.

I’ve looked at:

· the Florida Department of Education’s manual called the Florida Safe School School Design Guidelines

· research in Justice Quarterly looking at how SRO’s contribute to school safety

· Congressional research on whether SRO’s reduce school violence

· and a handbook for education leaders on safe school design in ERIC


The research I’ve looked at has shown that there really is no evidence SRO’s contribute to school safety when it comes to violence. But if the SRO’s are undertaking actions like creating relationships, that can lead to creating safer schools.


That tends to be an overlying theme of creating safe schools. If students feel safe and accepted, schools will be safer. 


Safe schools:

· are accommodating and supportive of the students they serve

· are inclusive

· are engaging of student needs, interests and special requirements


A school climate that is contentious to a student isn’t a safe school. A child being bullied or threatened, doesn’t make a safe school. This is exactly the climate that creates school shooters.

We must take a look at how we are creating safe schools internally. 


In the 2015-2016 school year, Indian River spent the whole entire Safe School budget on SRO’s. That was $402,967. There was no contribution from the city police department or sheriff’s office. It was 100% funded by the school district. 


None of that money went into prevention. 


No after school programs. 


No programs for the correction of specific discipline problems. 


No money for conflict resolution strategies. 


No behavior intervention programs. 


No money into alternative school programs to help students with mental health issues. 


No suicide prevention. 


No bullying and prevention.  


That’s disgraceful and shows the total lack of regard for our kids.


SRO’s are supposed to mitigate the loss once shootings start. All the things we aren’t funding are designed to keep the shooting from happening in the first place.


How do we ensure our students feel safe and accepted so they don’t come to school with weapons, intent on hurting those who hurt him/her? That is the question this school board should be trying to answer. 


I’d be happy to help in any way I can. I am passionate about keeping our students safe. Thank you.

Statement on Parkland Shooting and School Safety

In the days following the shooting in Parkland, my thoughts keep returning to the parents and family members who are planning funerals and experiencing an unimaginable grief. I’m reflecting on how many times I’ve heard about school shootings in our country, how countless lives have been lost, how tired I am of hearing from leaders that their “thoughts and prayers” are with those left behind without any action, how there were signs that the shooters had anger issues, mental health, and/or behavior disabilities and they were never given the help they needed. I keep wondering when enough will be enough. But I also question, what is the solution? I don’t think there is a simple one. It involves fixing and funding our inconceivably inadequate mental health system, our inability to create reasonable gun control legislation and funding our schools with safety dollars.  These are issues on a grand scale that we should all speak out about and push for change. In the meantime, we must take a look at our schools here in Indian River County and look for the holes in our system.  For example, accessibility to students. I have personally witnessed in schools from other districts, schools with greater access restriction. Anyone can walk through the doors of our schools here in Indian River County with no way to monitor or prevent who walks in those doors. By installing locked doors and security cameras, requesting visitors to show ID’s proving who they are, and giving the school staff access to who is allowed to pick up and drop off our children, then we have created a preventative measure to access. This step might be a small inconvenience to parents and visitors, but our children’s lives are worth it. School shootings are a heavy and complicated issue, but this is at least one concrete, reasonable action we can take now. We need real solutions that are made in a mindful, thoughtful manner. No amount of lockdown procedures will protect our students if a shooter can walk through our front doors or enter through the back of our schools. I call on the IRCSD School Board and Superintendent Rendell to initiate an assessment of each of our schools to find these holes in security. Law enforcement, parents, community organizations and school personnel should be a part of the assessment team. The more eyes and ears on our schools, the better. I would gladly offer my time and service to be a part of this team. The safety of my children and their school staff are of the utmost importance to me.