Collaboration between the Aiken County School District and law enforcement agencies on school safety concerns is not at all new, but the Safe Schools Initiative will strive to move that effort forward.
The program certainly is intended to inform and update educators, parents, students and the general public of the procedures that school and law enforcement officials take in case of an emergency situation at a school.
Sgt. Selwyn DeLoach of the Sheriff’s Office spoke to parents at South Aiken High school Wednesday, describing how existing safety plans function, and said those plans always will be updated as needed.
The parents who attended had excellent questions and generally were pleased with how the speakers set forth several topics — how Safe Schools works, managing threats in schools and the concept of domestic terrorism. More parental participation would be welcome, and additional meetings will be held.
Law enforcement personnel make every effort to respond promptly to school emergencies and go through their own training programs. Teachers throughout the county have received and will continue to receive training on appropriate procedures in a variety of scenarios.
Parents are an important part of the process: They absolutely have the right to be with their children during a school emergency, but should consider not doing so. Law enforcement and school officials agree that large numbers of parents can disrupt the efforts of school and law enforcement officials.
Fortunately, the district has a number of ways to contact parents, and in the fall, administrators will introduce the use of texting for those parents who give such permission. Parents should do so, because then they can depend on getting accurate information, not necessarily feel the need to rush to the school and are not left relying on rumors, including those that may come from their own children, who have good intentions but the wrong message.
The reality is that the most thorough planning cannot always prevent the efforts of a person determined to do harm. Still, the Safe School Initiative will improve the chances of preventing or more quickly stopping a serious incident at a school.