School Board delays decision to arm staff

After recognizing numerous
students, groups and teams for their successes over the past couple months, the Pendleton County Board of Education moved into an informative period that lasted three hours as they heard two presentations on school safety. It included pro and con positions on arming staff as well as hearing audience comments from two school employees and three individuals from outside the community.

After an introductory statement from Superintendent Dr. Anthony Strong indicating that the board would take no action that night, Chairperson Dr. Shawn Nordheim introduced Mark Filburn representing the Kentucky Center for School Safety.
He praised the school district for having this conversation on the school safety as well as several measures the schools presently take that other schools do not.

His presentation was summed up as a “multi-layeredprotection” and three areas that had to be focused on. They were: 1)Hardening the target by providing physical safety; 2)Detection and prevention; 3)School Resource Officers.
On the first item, he went through several areas including electronic locks, video cameras, metal detectors, metal doors, door handles, and safety security film provided by 3M.

Concerning detection and prevention, Filburn pointed out that, “If someone gets to our school with a weapon to try and kill our kids then we have failed.”

He indicated that 2002 Secret Service findings indicated that school shootings are rarely sudden events but rather planned. Someone knew and today’s students are more willing to come forward and tell than past generations had been.

He concluded his presentation detailing the training and importance of School Resource Officers to the school setting. While lamenting that nationally nothing has really been done on this subject and if the state does not have funds to provide for them, that “we should fund them as parents and grandparents.” He proposed 501C3’s to supplement funding at the local level and using LEOSA’s which are retired law enforcement as volunteers for armed protection. He cited a Western Kentucky University study that showed support for Armed Resource Officers are not a partisan issue but supported across the political spectrum. Republicans were at 78 percent, Independents
at 72 percent and Democrats at 63 percent. Moderates, liberals and conservatives agreed on the issue. The study indicated that 63 percent who favored armed resource officers were in favor of a tax increase to pay for it.

He gave credit to the Pendleton County Sheriff Office and Pendleton County Schools for their handling of the recent threat at Sharp Middle School.

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