Monthly Archives: February 2018

School Safety – What's the Plan?

DeKalb Schools incident report from last month …

Students at [a DeKalb Schools High School] were placed on lockdown this morning as a result of two separate incidents that occurred on campus today.
In the first instance, DCSD Public Safety officers were called to the school after a report of a weapon on the premises. Two males, one a student and the other a non-student were apprehended and arrested. The non-student was found in possession of a firearm. Reports of an armed adult on campus are so far unsubstantiated.
The second incident at the same school that morning involved a stolen car that was tracked to the parking lot by DeKalb County Police. Following a foot chase, four individuals were apprehended and arrested. The theft occurred off school grounds. The two incidents were not related.
A total of six people were arrested on school property this morning.

I get updates like this far too often. What’s the plan to keep our schools safe?
I would like to hear from students, parents, teachers, administrators and the community at large.

I heard Bill Maher say on Friday “Schools that look like prisons have students that are more likely to go to prison. There are high schools that look like a college and those students are more likely to go to college. We gotta get all the schools to look like colleges.” As lovely as the thought is, it’s another useless platitude.
Do we want our high schools to look like and operate like prisons and be secure? Here’s what we’re looking at.

K-9s (“canine”), – K-9s like Rex and Rocky, tasked with locating drugs and weapons, are part of a new push for public safety in DeKalb Schools. They can smell dangerous substances left behind for more than a day. They can tell if an individual has handled and even used a firearm based solely on scent.
Metal Detectors – DeKalb Schools’ increased safety initiative also includes a pilot program with metal detectors at numerous high schools.
Fences – Numerous principals in DeKalb are contemplating fencing to enhance campus security. High schools are vulnerable at their many points of egress. Fencing can limit that exposure.
School Resource Officers (SROs) – Officers make roughly $45K plus benefits. They are sworn law enforcement officers, fully armed, and are responsible for providing security and crime prevention services at our schools.
Smaller Schools
The research is clear that smaller schools have less violence and produce better academic results. The research indicates that smaller schools tend to be safer and are generally better places for students to learn. Graduation rates are generally higher, greater teacher satisfaction, small schools are more flexible, there is less one size fits all, etc…
Allow Teachers to Carry Firearms – If our SROs can be trained to carry firearms, why can’t some teachers? Floyd County Georgia BOE rep, Jay Shell, asks on Facebook, “Is it time that we partner with our local law enforcement agencies to train our educators on how to use firearms?”. Alabama State Rep. Will Ainsworth plans on introducing a bill to the Alabama State Legislature that would allow trained, certified teachers to carry weapons on school campuses.
DeKalb Schools Superintendent Green is not a fan of gun toting teachers. “There’s training to be a teacher, and then there’s training to be a law enforcement officer,” DeKalb County School District Superintendent Steve Green said in a statement Thursday. “Both are unique careers with a specific purpose. We believe our teachers can be most effective by focusing on the task at hand — deep teaching and learning — while the district and its schools work closely with law enforcement on a collaboration of undercover and uniformed officers.”
Parents: it’s time to STEP UP, says a Florida Teacher of the Year
Within the last couple of years, DeKalb Schools has created a Student Support and Intervention Division to provide “Wrap Around Services” and address the diverse needs of students and families. The school district has also flooded failing schools with paraprofessionals (parapros), social workers, teacher coaches, etc … DeKalb Schools has added over 1,000 school house full/part time employees across the district since 2014.
Kelly Guthrie Raley, a Florida middle school Teacher of the Year, posted on Facebook this commentary to parents:

Until we, as a country, are willing to get serious and talk about mental health issues, lack of available care for the mental health issues, lack of discipline in the home, horrendous lack of parental support when the schools are trying to control horrible behavior at school (oh no! Not MY KID. What did YOU do to cause my kid to react that way?), lack of moral values, and yes, I’ll say it-violent video games that take away all sensitivity to ANY compassion for others’ lives, as well as reality TV that makes it commonplace for people to constantly scream up in each others’ faces and not value any other person but themselves, we will have a gun problem in school. Our kids don’t understand the permanency of death anymore!!!
I grew up with guns. Everyone knows that. But you know what? My parents NEVER supported any bad behavior from me. I was terrified of doing something bad at school, as I would have not had a life until I corrected the problem and straightened my ass out. My parents invaded my life. They knew where I was ALL the time. They made me have a curfew. They made me wake them up when I got home. They made me respect their rules. They had full control of their house, and at any time could and would go through every inch of my bedroom, backpack, pockets, anything! Parents: it’s time to STEP UP!
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News & Updates – 2/23/2018

In January, DeKalb Schools welcomed two new members to its Public Safety division: K-9 units Rex and Rocky. The K-9s, tasked with locating drugs and weapons, are part of a new, comprehensive push for public safety. They can smell dangerous substances left behind for more than a day. They can tell if an individual has handled and even used a firearm based solely on scent. Rex or Rocky will visit a random school each week to assure no illegal substances or weapons are on campus.

DeKalb Schools’ increased safety initiative also includes a pilot program with metal detectors at numerous high schools. Metal detectors are costly to purchase and install, and they require other related expenditures such as staff to conduct the searches, training and equipment maintenance.

Students from Druid Hills MS and Clarkston HS participated in a walkout this week and held protests on their school grounds . However, some Clarkston students left campus and ventured down the street to a Quik Trip where they damaged property. The students will be held accountable in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.

We can expect gun control legislation demonstrations in the days ahead, including national protests set for March 14, March 24 and April 20. The DeKalb County School District supports students’ Constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and free expression of gun control. If a student walkout or protest happens at DeKalb Schools, the school district will allow the students to peacefully protest. Superintendent Green stresses that it can be a teachable moment where students can demonstrate their First Amendment right to be heard.

Roughly 700 students from Atlanta and DeKalb high schools played hookie and watched “Black Panther” this week. 650 individual donors pitched in to raise the $30,000 needed to cover the costs of the chartered buses and theater event.

Following feedback from its stakeholders, the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) will employ Virtual Learning Days using its Digital Dreamers technology to make up time lost in January to inclement weather.

• HB 932 would raise the age of compulsory attendance from 16 to 17. Rep. Tommy Benton brought the bill at the request of a constituent, and he had several students speak in support of the bill.
• HB 482 – an education savings account voucher. The state portion of K-12 funding would be handed over to the parent to direct as they choose – to private schools, home school needs, tutors, etc. Up to 50% of the funds could be rolled over annually and used up to the age of 22 for postsecondary expenses.
• HB 302 changes the required wording on notices for the millage rate adoption.
• HB 961 would eliminate DeKalb County’s unique CEO form of government. The bill that was filed just Tuesday was fast tracked and is eligible for a vote on the House floor. Nancy Jester, a Republican who represents north DeKalb, cited the county’s water and sewer woes as one reason the measure was needed.

“I believe that there is a direct connection to that competency issue and the form of government we have’
I support Rep. Hanson’s bill for a number of reasons. DeKalb is uniquely disadvantaged by the CEO form of government. The politicization of basic county operations has left DeKalb plagued with incompetence and fraud. DeKalb does not have consistent technical talent that remains regardless of political leadership changes. All around us, the operations of local government remain consistent and, generally, well run because they do not fluctuate every [four] years with the election of one person.”