School Safety Taskforce meets in Barren County

Published: Sep. 10, 2018 at 2:23 PM CDT
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Monday morning, Barren County High School welcomed state legislators, educators, lobbyists and more for a School Safety Working Group Meeting.

"That's definitely a pressing issue for school districts all across the state and nation," said Amy Irwin, Barren County High School's assistant principal. "So we were honored to host them and to hear about what other districts are doing across the state as we all try to create the safest model for our students."

This was their fifth meeting after starting in July during the interim period. The task force is not only made up of state legislators -- superintendents, school safety experts, and even a high school student serve as representatives to help give the General Assembly a comprehensive look into school safety.

"We as students are the ones who are experiencing everything that's going to be affected by this task force. We are the ones who are in school eight hours a day, five hours a week," said Nasim Mohammad Zadez, a junior representing students of Fayette County Schools.

Today's meeting focused on the superintendent's role, to get a better picture of what strategies different-sized school districts are implementing.

District leaders from Fayette, Hart and Shelby County Schools presented the initiatives and plans of action they'd been working to carry out.

"We're going out and across the state and we're listening to various groups," said Senator Max Wise, co-chairman of the task force and chairman of the Senate Education Committee. "We've had various students present; we've had teachers present. I think that's the best way for us to come across with any recommendations of what we're looking at is to take an all-encompassing approach of looking at this aspect."

Mental health professionals, school resource officers, building security -- the puzzle pieces are many when it comes to putting together a plan that works for one's school district.

"Some other counties may have different initiatives that they seek to implement," said Emmanuel Caulk, superintendent of Fayette County Schools, "but I'm sure there's going to be some common themes that's going to possibly require state dollars or grants or something or some way to support that across our system."

The task force is asking for input from constituents as they travel to different locations, listening to presentations from students and educators to hear what kind of resources Kentucky schools need.

The working group also wants to concentrate on college campus safety, and is seeking out October's meeting location to be at a college in northern Kentucky.

"Once again, what works in Fayette County may be different than what works in Barren County or Hart County, but for the working group, we just continue to listen," said Wise.

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