Dear Parents and Guardians,
We know many are understandably concerned about the safety of your child in light of the recent events across the country. We want you to know our number one priority is the safety of our students and staff.
We want to communicate some of the plans that are in place to secure the safety of your child. Laurel County Schools work closely with local, state law enforcement and other school safety and security experts to ensure students are as safe as possible. In addition to the partnership with law enforcement agencies and school security experts, our school district has a security consultant. As a result, staff including our security staff, receive special training to provide a safe and educational environment for our students.
School safety is too important to ignore facts. Metal detectors have been considered by some as a way to help ensure school and student safety. While metal detectors may be a future option, among many, to consider, it may not be the best at this time. There are several major concerns that must be addressed to make metal detectors a viable safety and security option. Before we implement any safety measure we want to make sure that first, it does no harm. Significant safety issues need to be addressed before simply installing metal detectors in schools:
In addition to the above concerns, according to the discussion with Mr. Jon Akers, the Executive Director for The Kentucky Center For School Safety the following statements were made:
a. The best way to spend limited funds on school safety is to “hire a cop”. Mr. Akers commented that the use of SRO’s in schools were the best way to combat school violence for a number of reasons. SRO’s made contact with students on a regular basis, they observed changes in students, spoke to teachers and were there as a three-pronged entity…teacher, counselor, and law enforcement. The mere presence of these folks are a deterrent to school violence.
b. His opinion on metal detectors was mixed at best. He stated that he has seen instances where metal detectors created a large delay in entering the building, thus creating a lot of students gathered outside which made them potentially bigger targets. He also stated that each detector had to “manned” by a law enforcement officer due to the fact if something did turn up, there was a good chance they would have to be disarmed. Another consideration was that there is no surprise factor; he did not know of an instance when a detector actually caught a potential school shooter. His comment was he did not think someone who planned on shooting up a school would stand in line and go through a metal detector.
c. There is also a cultural consideration in that metal detectors give off a certain vibe in that the school doesn’t trust their students and it is no longer a safe place.
d. The time issue is also something to be considered in that it takes a good while to do the metal detectors properly in that belt buckles, shoes, etc set the devices off and if they go off, you have to check it out completely, thus holding up the line.
e. Metal Detectors are not failsafe. Kids can bring things in through side doors, kids can be tardy, check –in, check out. There are many variables to prepare for. It is important not to look at school safety myopically. All things must be considered.
We as a district welcome and appreciate the outpouring of support, concern and desire to assist. However, it would not be in the best interest of students to haphazardly implement any plan with half-measures. We are, however, working on a comprehensive logistics plan with experts in the field of metal detecting and security screening to determine if it is possible to overcome the additional risks associated with metal detectors as advised by experts in the field.
At this time, the contributions would be best served to increase our School Resource Officer Staff. Please contact us at 606-862-4600 for anyone interested in assisting.
We are always looking at ways to improve security and ways to establish a safer school environment. We also need assistance from you the parent or guardian. Here are some things you may do to assist your child and school.
Finally, I want to express my sincere appreciation that you allow your child to come to one our schools each day. We, the Laurel County School District family, do not take that responsibility lightly. We know every child is a gift who should be loved and protected. Let us all work together to keep our students safe, and allow them to thrive to have a successful and prosperous future.
At this time, the most effective way to allocate contributions would be to apply those donations to the funding of additional School Resource Officer Staff.
We greatly appreciate the genorosity of many in the community. We want to make sure that the contributions have the greatest impact on improving student safety. We look forward to working together to do what is best for our children.
Doug Bennett, EdD
Laurel County School District