Richland Two school board considering possible safety and security measures in light of recent incidents
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Following recent incidents on its campuses, the Richland School District Two Board is starting a committee that aims to improve the safety and security of both students and staff.
Last month, a student at Spring Valley High School was arrested after bringing a handgun to school.
On two consecutive days in late April, Blythewood High School students were caught with guns on campus.
The safety and security committee, chaired by board member Dr. Monica E. Scott, met on Monday.
“We know that there are many safety concerns and priorities, but we want to start with the most pressing ones,” Scott said. “And so far, just speaking with my colleagues, safety concerns that we have are weapons that are being brought into our schools as well as fights that we’re encountering and seeing on a daily basis.”
Richland Two parent Mcgee Moody attended that meeting. He believes that board members are “on the right track.”
He hopes, given recent tensions on the board, that nothing gets derailed because this topic is “way too important to mess up because of drama.”
Some board members said that they have confidence a consensus will be reached on these issues.
“Regardless of whatever issues we have going on between us, this is something that we can’t play with, we need to be very serious about and we need to make sure that we do consensus,” Board Vice Chair James Manning said. “I know that we will on this issue.”
Scott said she feels as though the committee is moving in a “positive direction.”
Moody has two daughters in Blythewood schools. He said he feels encouraged by some of the discussions that the board is having, but that there must be urgency.
“To me, every avenue needs to be pursued, whether it affects the environment or whether it doesn’t, you have to pursue and go down those roads to find out and get to the best possible solution,” he said. “Why is it important to me? It’s important because this violent trend is growing every day, and we’ve got to do something about it.”
The district is considering a number of solutions, including introducing metal detectors or bringing in K-9 units to sweep the hallways.
“I have been asking for metal detectors within our schools for almost a decade now,” Scott said. “So, I’m very excited to see that collectively as a board that we are beginning to have those conversations and want to move forward.”
Manning said a balance must be struck in this effort.
“How do we make sure that our students and that our teachers in our community and our schools are safe, but at the same time not creating a prison-like environment,” he said. “That’s why I think we had a lot of discussion last night; it’s going to take a lot more discussion.”
Scott said the board is also looking to build partnerships with organizations outside of Richland Two to address some of the issues they’ve been seeing in schools.
“I’ve reached out to Perry Bradley who is with Building Better Communities,” she said. “And his company offers so many workshops and trainings on conflict resolution, on mental health, on gun violence. So, we want to build a partnership and a relationship with him as well. And of course, we’ve already built a relationship with Be SMART, and we want to continue that.”
These partnerships are important, Scott said, because “it takes a village.”
If the board were to take a step like installing metal detectors, it would need to be implemented next school year.
In the short term, Richland Two has increased its number of school resource officers and administrative presence on campus. Additionally, it has decreased students’ access to freely roam the halls.
The next step for the committee is getting feedback from the community. This will come in the form of a survey to parents, faculty and staff in the next few weeks.
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