Schools to unveil safety initiatives

Xavier Smith • Mar 1, 2018 at 7:47 PM

Wilson County Schools, in conjunction with the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, will look to take several steps in the near future to further insure safety at county schools.

Wilson County is one of a few counties in the state to have at least one school resource officer in each public school, including multiple officers at high schools. Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan discussed the officers during Monday’s Wilson County Commission meeting.

“I just want so say one thing. I sit in those meetings, and I feel fortunate, because this body, several years ago when Commissioner [Terry] Ashe served as sheriff, took the responsibility to put SROs in these schools. I can sit in those meetings and say my county did the right thing. They’re asking us how did we do it,” Bryan said. “We’ve got a safe school system. We’ve got trained officers. We’ve got the right people in the schools, and I feel comfortable with our school system and safety.”

Even with the assurance from school and law enforcement leaders, the two entities have teamed to review and discuss additional steps and changes to further improve school safety.

“Not only does [Steve Spencer, director of safety and emergency management] take it seriously, but he’s one who wants to make sure to keep pushing us to make sure we’re practiced and knowledgeable and know the plans and what to do in the event something happens,” said Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright.

Wright said the district and law enforcement officials would unveil plan, guidelines and other information related to school safety next week. She discussed the potential of the plans during Thursday’s Wilson County Board of Education work session.

“Something that’s really been evident that we’ve learned from Broward County, [Florida] is everyone points fingers to everyone else about all the red flags. Well, many of those red flags involved minors where little could be done, but there are some things we could put into place with people working together and sharing information,” Wright said.

Wright highlighted several tools the district currently uses to monitor potential threats, including Social Sentinel, which allows the district to screen all public social media for potential threats. She also said additional monitoring takes place at the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

“They have been a great partner in giving us guidance, because there are things they can do that we can’t do when dealing with minors,” she said.

Some of the initiatives included renovations to some school entrances, as well as a committee dedicated to safety.

“The board will be a part of what we’re having and setting up. It’s more than an advisory group. It’s one that’s going to be meeting on a regular basis,” said Wright, who said group would discuss safety procedures, including school design.

Wright said the district would work during the summer to remodel entrances at six of the district’s older schools to improve the safety of the entrances.

She also discussed feedback she’s received about the district’s reluctance to post its safety plans and procedures, which she said was because it could also be seen by those would want to harm students.

“There are times where there’s information we can’t share, but don’t think we’re not addressing it,” Wright said.


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