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March 13, 2018

Community leaders suggest school security measures

How do we encourage kids to be more aware of other kids in their school and not be afraid to get that student the help they need?
— Stacie Griffin
Existing Security
Fauquier County Public Schools already have:

• 8 SROs (sheriff’s deputies) in middle and high schools.

• Regular evacuation, lockdown, shelter in place and active shooter drills.

• Locked exterior doors, video systems and controlled entry systems that run background checks on visitors.

• The COPsync alert system that instantly links schools with law enforcement. Any school staff member can have the app on his/her phone and/or computer.

• Extensive mental health first aid training for staff members and students.

• Crisis management plans, subject to annual audits and updates.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
About 60 educators, first responders, elected officials and citizens offered suggestions Tuesday to make Fauquier schools safer.

Their suggestions placed greater emphasis on communications and relationships than on officers and security systems.

Stacie Griffin, parent of a Marshall Middle student and chairman of Fauquier’s Excellence in Education Foundation, believes strong relationships make a school safe.

“The school resource officers at the middle school level are fantastic; kids know their names and seem to have a relationship with them,” Ms. Griffin said. “The problem is, in middle school, it’s not cool to snitch. How do we encourage kids to be more aware of other kids in their school and not be afraid to get that student the help they need?”

She suggested the school system could improve safety by finding out “what’s happening inside and outside school with social media and not being afraid to investigate the smallest concern and really empowering students to say something.”

Among other topics, school and community leaders discussed the need to:

• Make school entrances safer; stop buzzing people into the schools without asking questions.

• Improve relationships and communication with students.

• Explain safety procedures more effectively to parents.

• Access more mental health resources.

• Let students have more input.

•  Monitor social media.

• Educate students on security and “see something, say something.”

• Hire more school counselors, resource officers and security specialists.

“We have to involve family, parents, guardians too,” county Supervisor Chris Butler (Lee District) said.

Mr. Butler planned to discuss hiring security officers at every elementary school and an SRO for Southeastern Alternative School with his board colleagues.

Liberty High School senior Madison Humphries said participating in the meeting, “provided me the opportunity to see how much our community cares about us. Our voices are being heard. I’m grateful to the administrators for allowing us to do this.”

“I know now that the school board is behind us,” Ms. Humphries. “Our entire community is behind us . . . . They support trying to ensure our schools are safe.”

School Superintendent David Jeck hoped the meeting at Stoneridge Events Center near Warrenton would produced “actionable steps to improve the safety of our students.”

The Feb. 14 murders of 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., prompted Tuesday’s meeting.

“The events in Florida had a profound impact on me,” Dr. Jeck said. “I don’t want to lose that energy . . . to make sure our schools are more safe.”

Participants reviewed safety measures already in place, needed improvements and potential barriers to making them.

“We need more counselors in the schools . . . and the community as well,” Liberty High School Principal Sam Cox said.

Sallie Morgan, executive director of Fauquier’s Mental Health Association, said the school system and community need more education, prevention and treatment resources for those who struggle.

Greenville Elementary Principal Tim Gardner agreed schools need “early identification (of students with issues) and access to mental health resources.”
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bobolink · March 15, 2018 at 5:05 am
Do the obvious: deal with the mistaken design of the new Fauquier High School first floor floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a full view of classrooms with no place to hide.
nonewtaxes · March 14, 2018 at 5:18 pm
We need less parenting and more big brother.
citizen observer · March 14, 2018 at 1:00 pm
Sorry, I didn't realize my suggestion below doesn't fit the EMPOWER liberal agenda to use students to take guns away from everyone.
citizen observer · March 13, 2018 at 5:03 pm
As we pay to renovate and build new schools, maybe some proactive safety features can be added to the classrooms. These shelters protect kids from many hazards, both natural and man made. We install sprinklers to protect against fires, time to up the anty in other areas.
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