Parents, school officials speak out about rising fear of firearms
With recent school shootings happening nation wide, the safety of our children is a hot topic. New safety measures are being taken in classrooms to try to help prevent more tragic events like the most recent Parkland, Fla. school shooting and hopefully, bring parents some peace of mind.
“Drew Central School District has taken several steps to guide and assist its personnel on how to respond in an organized and effective manner when an emergency or crises occurs,” Billy Williams, District Superintendent said. “Our district crisis coordinator has increased the number of unannounced visits to monitor the safe classroom initiatives for their students and staff. Our district leadership has met with community leaders and law enforcement agencies to determine the best methods for providing their presence on our school campus throughout the school day and at school activities.
“The district is also researching ways that our students can communicate information anonymously that they receive through different types of social media that could limit or prevent a potential crisis situation from happening in their building or school campus. Students, staff, and parents must be pro-active in sharing information to alert school officials of potential crisis situations.”
Both local district superintendents agree that the safety and well being of the students is a top priority.
“The Monticello School District has the responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of the District’s students and employees,” Sandra Lanehart, Monticello Superintendent said. “To help maintain a safe environment conducive to high student achievement, the Monticello School District has established policies necessary to regulate student behavior to promote an orderly school environment that is respectful of the rights of others and ensures the uniform enforcement of student discipline. The first step is creating a written commitment to providing a safe and inviting school environment for each individual student and for the whole school community that includes a “zero tolerance” policy that clearly addresses bullying, harassment, words and actions that intimidate and threaten, and any kind of action that would make the school unsafe. Every building on every campus is equipped with security doors. Patrons must buzz the office and identify themselves and their purpose for entering the building. All campuses are equipped with security cameras that are monitored through out the day. At present, we are exploring technology that would allow a hot line for students, staff, and parents to report anonymously any suspicious conversations, social media posts, or threats . The Monticello School Districts partners with the Monticello Police Department for a security officer who monitors the schools through out the day. In addition, the District has a very active Safety Committee that works with all campuses to evaluate safety needs and conduct yearly safety training that includes procedures for lock downs and intruder drills.”
Since the Florida shooting, nine schools in the state have been investigated for “copycat threats” according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
School officials across the state are re-examining safety policies and procedures, including reviewing access to school entrances and protocol when fire alarms activate. Some school officials said an increased emphasis also will be placed on monitoring social media for threats.
Arkansas schools have 316 school resource officers who work across 156 school districts, according to Beth Green, a communications specialist with the University of Arkansas System’s Criminal Justice Institute.
According to gun.laws.com, Arkansas gun laws do not necessitate the registering of any shotgun, rifle or handgun. Machine guns are required to be registered under federal law, as well as with the Secretary of State.
An individual may be eligible to purchase firearms as long as they are at least 18 years of age. Minors must have expressed consent by a parent or legal guardian.