Suwannee Democrat

Local News

December 21, 2012

School safety concerns addressed

Law enforcement, school members address issues

Live Oak — Superintendent of Schools Jerry Scarborough hosted a meeting on Wednesday afternoon with school principals and local law enforcement to address school safety concerns. Less than two months ago, several local agencies performed drills to prepare school staff and students for unexpected emergencies. Since the school shooting that took place in Newtown, Conn. on Friday, concerns for school safety have resurfaced.

“What we want to ensure is that we have safe schools,” Scarborough said. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t improve.” 
He assured members of the audience that schools do have a plan in place, but their strategies are confidential, for security reasons.

“We do drills and make sure our staff is prepared at all times because you never know when tragedies like this will happen,” Scarborough said.

Sheriff Tony Cameron spoke to the principals on concerns he has with the school landscape.

“Our schools are very open,” he said. “School resource officers should be at your schools at all times and should be near the main entrance of the school.”

Cameron said that his staff has done training inside all of the public schools within the county.

“You cannot fortify a school enough to keep an incident from happening,” he said. “But you can identify problems before they occur.” 
Cameron suggested to the principals that teachers should be in the hallways while students are changing classes to monitor the behavior of students and hopefully be able to prevent an incident from occurring.

“If you see a student who is acting different, depressed, or know of a child having troubles at home, it’s best to identify the problem early and let us (law enforcement) get out to the homes and get the situation taken care of and get parental involvement before it gets out of hand.”

Live Oak Police Chief Buddy Williams suggested designated parking for teachers.

“We make the students get stickers, why can’t the teachers do it, too?” he said. “It’s better to have all the designated cars in one place so if there was a suspicious vehicle on the property, we can easily identify it. I know it’s not very convenient, but our safety is most important.”

Williams also noted that he would like to see better fencing at the schools.

“What I would like to see is that during school hours, there be one way in and one way out,” he said.

Both Cameron and Williams praised Scarborough and his staff for their safety efforts.

“What I’ve seen from the school administration is that they truly care and are doing their best to keep our schools safe,” Cameron said.

Williams added, “It’s not a matter of if an incident occurs at our schools, it’s just a matter of when. And I can say confidently our schools are ready and have a solid plan for safety.”

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