Sen.Perry, school administrators discuss school violence

Sen. Perry, school administrators discuss school violence

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Administrators are working all summer to make sure when students walk the school halls they'll feel safe this August.

Several superintendents from area districts are swapping notes about the myth and facts surrounding school violence. The collaborative effort is to prevent becoming the next victim of school violence. 

Superintendents from Lubbock Cooper, Frenship ISD and Lubbock ISD all gave presentations on what is working for each of their respective districts. The forum at Indiana Baptist Church was hosted by Willow Bend Mortgage. Former educator Fred Hardin organized the discussion in response to the Santa Fe shooting.

"The big thing is the open dialogue," Hardin said. "I mean I think the fact that we laid it out on the table that this is an issue that everyone in our community is concerned about, but it's hard to do in isolation." 

Lubbock Cooper ISD is the second fastest-growing district in the state. As a result, Superintendent Keith Bryant said it has been working on boosting up security.

"Over the past several years, our district has placed at least one police officer in every campus all day long so we have that happening," Bryant said. "The second thing that we've done is we have taken a very, very, interpersonal approach to students." 

 Bryant said it has implemented behavioral profile training for staff. Teachers and counselors are to pay attention what students do and focus on unpredictable behaviors. The district also has a mentor program tailored to at-risk kids. 

 At Frenship ISD, Superintendent Michelle McCord said it has added cameras, secure entrances and Lubbock Police and Wolfforth PD patrol. 

"I think a big part of our success is not because of anything we're doing that any other districts are not doing," McCord said "I think one of the key elements of success is just the relationships that you have with your parents, your community, collaborating."

Kathy Rollo with Lubbock ISD said while cameras and police presence is already in place, there are new programs the district is taking part in. 

"We put a lot of new things in this summer with regard to training, protocols that we're using," Rollo said."We've done a facility audit so we know what our facility needs our to make our schools safer."

For those dated facilities, the district will ask for a bond election to fund security updates from a structural standpoint. While it is costly, the district said it is important to do everything it can to protect students. Lubbock ISD Board of Trustees President Zach Brady said if a bond package is presented to voters, it would be structured to not increase the property tax rate. 

Senator Charles Perry said there is $110 million set aside for school safety statewide. 

"Our obligation as a state is to make sure that money is effectively spent and not just thrown out there to create a false sense of security that we did something," Perry said. 

With on-going testimonies in the state capitol, he said it is a work in progress.  

"There's an element of due-process and how you capture those people into the system without violating their rights and creating unnecessary angst in a group that didn't deserve to be in there," Perry said. 

"Are we 100 percent safe? no. Can we do better? absolutely," Kathy Rollo said. "I can promise our parents that schools will be safer moving into this next school year than this past school year." 

All three districts utilize TWITR, the Texas Tech program, Governor Abbot champions as a tool to reach students who are in need of mental health assistance. 

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